In a new documentary about Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters’ rancorous campaign against Israel, acclaimed filmmaker and author Ian Halperin is seeking to emphasize the damaging rhetoric of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign Waters supports.
“I’ve never come across a story more filled with hate, prejudice, and misinformation than the vitriol that Roger Waters is spewing to the world,” Halperin told Paul Miller, president and executive director of the Haym Salomon Center, in an interview published by the Observer earlier this month.
The film, called Wish You Weren’t Here, is Halperin’s way of expressing that, “to me, an attack on Israel is an attack against the Jewish people.”
Roger Waters has established himself as a leader of the BDS campaign, and has criticized musicians who choose to perform concerts in Israel. Most recently, Waters singled out Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke for dismissing calls to boycott Israel.
Halperin’s documentary exposes the anti-Semitic motifs found within Waters’ activism, including the negative consequences of the anti-Semitic imagery that Waters displays at his concerts. In 2013, a Waters concert featured a floating pig displaying a Star of David, a move that Waters has continuously defended, in part by asserting that accusations of anti-Semitism against him are unfounded because he has a Jewish daughter-in-law.
“You can argue with some of Israel’s policies, no problem. But to call for a universal boycott of Israel is deplorable, baseless and unfounded,” Halperin said. “It’s an anti-Semitic attack.”
The film also discredits the comparison that Waters draws between the situation in Israel and apartheid South Africa. “I’ve met all the leaders who fought to liberate South Africa,” Halperin said. “Waters doesn’t know what he’s talking about. South Africans are insulted by his claims.”
Dr. Charles Small, Halperin’s childhood friend and a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African studies, pointed out the importance of the documentary, which will be available later in the summer. “Through the film and through this project, we’re trying to wake people up to contemporary antisemitism and get them to stand up against all forms of hatred as well,” Small said.
Waters continues to be embroiled in conflict. Officials on Long Island are currently pushing to cancel his upcoming performance at the Nassau Coliseum, arguing that it is in violation of New York’s anti-BDS law. According to JTA, Waters insisted—without irony—that “he would play his shows in Nassau, saying an artist’s rights should not be attacked over his stand on an issue.”
[Photo: Ian Halperin / YouTube ]