German police are investigating Roger Waters, the founder of the band Pink Floyd, a longtime critic of Israel, who wore a Nazi-style outfit in Berlin last week as he criticized fascism at “The Wall”. Were. ,
Mr Waters, who has made anti-Israel statements in the past that many have said crossed a line into anti-Semitism, has in the past successfully fought two attempts by German courts to bar him from German concerts Is.
The investigation focused on the outfit Mr Waters wore during a rendition of the 1979 Pink Floyd song “In the Flesh”, taken from their seminal album “The Wall”, in which a rock star impersonates a fascist dictator. imagines as A similar staging was featured in the 1982 film “Pink Floyd: The Wall”, starring Bob Geldof.
During parts of the concerts in Berlin on 17 May and 18 May, Mr Waters wore a black trench coat with shoulder straps and a red armband, according to Videos posted on social media and witnesses. Accompanied by men dressed in costumes evoking Nazi stormtroopers, he fired a prop machine gun into the audience. Mr. Waters has worn similar costumes at concerts outside Germany for years for routines he has called satire.
Berlin authorities must determine to what extent the display of Nazi-like imagery is protected by artistic freedom of expression. In Germany, displaying Nazi symbolism such as the swastika or SS regalia, justifying or belittling the Holocaust, and anti-Semitic acts are illegal.
“Artistic freedom of expression is not a license to incite hatred,” wrote Nicholas Potter, a researcher at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in Berlin, a group that tracks neo-Nazism, right-wing extremism and antisemitism in Germany, in an email exchange.
“Artistic freedom is often used as an argument for expressing undemocratic or hateful views, including anti-Semitism, but this does not mean it always applies – context is important,” They said. Mr. Potter attended a show in Berlin and wrote about Foundation’s News Blog,
Mr. Waters initially agreed to an interview with The New York Times about the investigation, but then declined. A representative wrote: “We hesitate to comment on this fabricated news story intended to further sensationalize.”
A Berlin police spokesman said investigators would submit their findings to the Berlin state attorney within the next three months. The State’s Attorney will decide whether to charge Mr. Waters.
Mr Waters is a vocal supporter of bdsThe Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which calls for foreign governments, businesses, and artists to break ties with Israel until it ends its occupation of the occupied territories in 1967, among other demands.
Mr. Waters has in previous concerts included a flying balloon representing a flying pig, which featured the Star of David. He defended that action, saying on facebook in 2013 that, “like it or not, the Star of David represents Israel and its policies and is legitimately subject to any and all forms of nonviolent protest.”
Addressing the controversy over his German concerts in a Facebook post on Sunday, he German lawmakers criticized who condemned the BDS, saying that they had “recommended the German people to stand ‘silent and indifferent’ to the “institutional murder” of the Palestinian people by the “tyrannical racist regime”, which they said was the State of Israel”.
On the giant display board at the concert, the name of anne frankOne of the most easily recognized victims of the Holocaust, during which the Germans killed more than 6 million Jews, is placed next to the name of Shirin Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American television reporter shot by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers During a raid in the West Bank last year.
Israeli Foreign Ministry on Wednesday morning posted on twitter: “Good morning everyone but Roger Waters who spent the evening in Berlin (yes Berlin) commemorating Anne Frank and the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.”
On Wednesday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center publicly called on German authorities to investigate the concert in Berlin. The Center wrote, “There are few artists whose anti-Israel antics can match Waters’.” in a statement, “Despite his protests to the contrary, Waters has walked the line between anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism over the years.”
Any accusations stemming from the concert will come as Germany faces a more general debate about the rise of antisemitism in the country, 78 years after the end of the Holocaust. In addition to an overall increase in the number of reported anti-Semitic crimes in the country, there was widespread discussion following a group of leaders of cultural institutions. published an open letter Condemned not only the BDS but also a parliamentary resolution which declared the BDS to be inherently antisemitic. and featuring an art installation Antisemitic caricature in the documenta Last year’s arts festival in Kassel triggered another round of soul-searching among the cultural elite.
The city of Frankfurt tried to prevent Mr. Waters from performing the coming Sunday at the Frankfurt Festhalle, a concert venue partially owned by the city. In November 1938, thousands of Jewish men were herded into the arena after a night of pogroms known as Kristallnacht before being sent to concentration camps. But a judge in Frankfurt sided with Waters, who filed an emergency injunction against the city on Monday, citing a constitutional right to artistic freedom and the fact that there was no evidence that Waters would break the law.
In March, the city of Munich determined that it could not legally withdraw from a contract with the musician for a show he had played the previous week at the Olympic Stadium. Instead the city decided to allow organized protests outside the venue on the day of the concert.
Alex Marshall Contributed reporting from London.