The Israel lobby is trying to do a Jeremy Corbyn on Roger Waters

Asa Winstanley

The Electronic Intifada  /  June 2, 2023

Last weekend, rock legend Roger Waters, journalist Katie Halper and yours truly were invited by our friend Danny Haiphong onto his popular YouTube livestream, The Left Lens.

The topic was my new book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (out now from OR Books).

But the livestream happened to coincide with a massive new wave of a long-running smear campaign against Waters by Israel and its global lobby.

You can watch the full live stream in the video below.

The founder of Pink Floyd, and the creative force behind the band’s biggest albums, Roger Waters is probably the world’s most famous supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Israel’s lies about Waters come as revenge for his high profile support to Palestinians and their global solidarity movement.

The attacks against Waters were a perfect example of what I report in detail my book – that Israel and its lobby systematically, and falsely, tries to smear Palestinians and their supporters as anti-Semites.

Just such an “anti-Semitism” campaign played a major role in the downfall of Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing former leader of the British Labour Party.

The attacks on Waters last week were instigated by Israeli officials, soon joined in lockstep by Israel lobbyists, as well as by servile lawmakers and politicians in Europe and North America.

Waters has been on a critically acclaimed tour of Europe and is currently playing to massive arenas across Britain.

Deliberately misleading and decontextualized photos from Waters’ shows were posted online by official Israeli social media accounts after the star’s shows in Germany, in an attempt to whip up social media hysteria against him.

A video display from the shows flashes up what The Times of London’s rock critic on Thursday called a “broad global catalog of victims of authoritarian violence.” Among the many names flashed up on the screen was Anne Frank, a child victim of the Nazi Holocaust, who was made famous by her posthumously published diary.

But the real reason for the rage of Israel and its lobby was Waters’ inclusion in that catalog of a Palestinian victim of Israel.

This was the renowned Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was deliberately shot dead by Israeli soldiers just over one year ago, as repeated investigations have shown.

But the same day that Israeli government social media accounts had begun to attack Waters in highly misleading terms, the Israel lobby then sprang into action.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews falsely claimed in a statement – providing no evidence — that Waters has a “history of vile comments” against the Jewish community.

The Board publically claims to represent the “mainstream” Jewish community, but internally admits to having “a close working relationship with the Embassy of Israel” as well as the Israeli military spokesperson.

The Israel lobbyists hinted that Waters’ then-upcoming British gigs should be banned, claiming that “his performances are not just concerts, but political rallies. We are very concerned that he will soon be appearing at venues around the country.”

Secretary of pro-Israel group the Jewish Labour MovementAdam Langleben smeared Waters as a “Putin apologist and Jew baiter,” copying in the Twitter accounts of some of his scheduled UK venues. (Waters is also a supporter of peace negotiations to end the war between Russia and Ukraine.)

Langleben’s deceptive tweet failed to gain much traction, and has only three retweets at the time of writing.

But the overall Israeli-instigated, false claims against Waters did seem to succeed in opening up a German police investigation into his show in Berlin which – as his shows have done for decades – included a theatrical depiction of a fascist demagogue.

As The Times put it, “Any passing Floyd-head knew it’s been an unmistakably anti-fascist set piece since 1980’s The Wall tour.”

Waters put out a statement calling the Israeli-led campaign, “bad faith attacks from those who want to smear and silence me because they disagree with my political views.”

Labour lawmakers Alex Sobel (who is close to the pro-Israel group Jewish Labour Movement) and Christian Wakeford (an official supporter of Labour Friends of Israel) both called for Waters’ gigs to be banned.

Wakeford used almost identical language to the Board of Deputies, falsely claiming Waters has a “history of vile comments” against Jews.

As I pointed out to Waters in the Left Lens YouTube stream, it’s ironic that Sobel is participating in an Israeli led campaign to smear Waters as a fascist.

Sobel has been a loud and vocal proponent of sending even more British weapons to Ukraine, despite the fact that British weapons and training have been going directly and openly to Ukraine’s Nazi Azov Battalion.

Israel and its supporters are trying to remove Waters from public life in a similar fashion to how (as my new book explains in detail) they politically assassinated Jeremy Corbyn. As my colleague Ali Abunimah puts it, “These vicious liars can’t tolerate any major public figure taking a stand in support of the Palestinian people’s just liberation struggle from Israel’s colonial apartheid regime.”

Waters himself has also reportedly made the same comparison.

But Israel and its lobby faces serious obstacles in its campaign against Waters. The main one? Unlike the mild-mannered Corbyn, Waters fights back.

He successfully sued the city of Frankfurt, forcing them to let him play his show there. And instead of backing down after the manufactured “anti-Semitism” campaign last week, he openly ripped into Israel and its lobby.

“I will not be canceled!” The Times reported him saying, in its five-star review of his first British show this week.

He called Christian Wakeford a “wanker!” and said of the attacks that “it all comes from Tel Aviv.” Hyperbole, perhaps, but it also happens to be broadly correct, as the timeline above shows.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London