‘Antisemitic’ Roger Waters concert in Frankfurt may now go ahead, German court rules

The court conceded that Waters use of Nazi imagery in his stage show was “tasteless,” but would not go further than that.

By Ben Cohen, Algemeiner

A previously-canceled concert in the German city of Frankfurt by the former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters may now go ahead, after a court ruled on Monday that the decision by local authorities to ban his performance on the grounds of his alleged antisemitism violated his artistic freedom.

The May 28 concert at the city’s Festhalle — where more than 3,000 Jews were assembled and abused by the Nazi regime in Nov. 1938 prior to their deportation to concentration camps — was canceled two months ago, after the city government, which jointly owns the venue with the state of Hesse, accused Waters of being “one of the world’s best-known antisemites,” citing his backing for the campaign to subject the State of Israel to a regime of “boycotts, divestment and sanctions” (BDS). It also highlighted the use of antisemitic imagery in Waters’ past concerts, including a balloon shaped like a pig and embossed with a Star of David and various corporate logos.

At the end of March, Waters announced that he was taking legal action to reverse the decision, claiming: “I fight for all of our human rights, including the right to free speech. We are on the road to Frankfurt. Frankfurt, here we come!”

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The Frankfurt Administrative Court ruled in favor of Waters on Monday, arguing that the memory of the Jewish deportees who were forcibly gathered at the Festhalle would not be tainted by the singer exercising his “artistic freedom.” While the court conceded that Waters use of Nazi imagery in his stage show was “tasteless,” it was also the case that the singer “does not glorify or relativize the National Socialist atrocities or identify with National Socialist racial ideology,” a spokeswoman for the court told local media outlets. Post–war Germany instituted a series of laws that outlaw pro-Nazi organizations and their associated symbols as well as the denial of the Holocaust.

The decision can still be appealed at the Administrative Court for the state of Hesse.

As well as Frankfurt, Waters is scheduled to perform in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne and Munich as part of his “This is Not A Drill 2023” tour. An attempt to ban his Munich appearance at the Olympiahalle venue failed over concerns that Waters could sue for breach of contract. The city council has urged the Olympiahalle to prepare signs, flags and other symbols on the day of the concert that would send a “clear signal for international understanding and international solidarity, against antisemitism and for the right to exist of the State of Israel and the sovereignty of Ukraine.”

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Waters has established himself as one of the most visible supporters of the campaign to subject the State of Israel to a regime of “boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS)” as a prelude to its elimination as a sovereign state. As well as including antisemitic motifs in his concerns, Waters has made incendiary comments in a number of media interviews about the alleged power of the “Jewish lobby” in the US and Israel’s supposed program of “genocide” targeting the Palestinians.

The singer’s recent activities have included a Feb. 8 appearance at the UN Security Council. Invited to address the body by the Russian mission to the UN, Waters delivered a rambling speech in which he claimed to be speaking on behalf of the world’s “voiceless majority” while denouncing Ukraine’s democratic government as “provocateurs.”