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12th July 2017

roger waters

Award-winning filmmaker and New York Times bestselling author Ian Halperin has made Pink Floyd founding member Roger Waters the subject of a documentary film called 'Wish You Weren't Here'. A boycott campaign against Waters is also underway.

Waters, labelled an anti-Semite by the Anti-Defamation League, has previously compared Jews to Nazi collaborators and claimed that Israel is a "racist apartheid regime" that practices "ethnic cleansing". He is international spokesman for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Several times over recent years, Waters has publicly pleaded with performers who have announced concerts in Israel to join the boycott but he has failed to garner much support from the music industry.

Halperin told The Observer:

"I started travelling, meeting with different leaders throughout Europe. I didn't know how bad the problem is with contemporary anti-Semitism there. There are less than two million Jews left in Europe, which is very alarming - a place where Jews have long been an integral part of society and whose valuable contributions to the culture are immeasurable.

"During my research, I came upon Roger Waters, and I couldn't believe he was singling out Israel when there are so many truly egregious violators of human rights in the world. Why is he going after Israel? So, I began asking people what this guy has against Israel. To me, an attack on Israel is an attack against the Jewish people."

Halperin also met with psychologists who work with Holocaust survivors and their families and described the effect of Waters' floating pig bearing the Star of David as "unforgiveable" for survivors, comparing it to a scene in his film where a three-year-old Palestinian girl is "brainwashed" into believing Jews are pigs.

He also interviewed leaders in the South African anti-apartheid struggle in preparation for the documentary and says they found Waters' comparison to Israel offensive and demeaning to their people's suffering.

"I've met Mandela. I've met all the leaders who fought to liberate South Africa. Waters doesn't know what he's talking about. South Africans are insulted by his claims. 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. It's an anti-Semitic attack."

Halperin, the son of a Holocaust survivor, was inspired to produce this film by his childhood friend, Dr Charles Small.

"Charles was aware my father was a Holocaust survivor. My dad hid in a cave from age six to age thirteen. His mother and sister died of starvation. Growing up, in my family you weren't supposed to talk about any of this and just try to move forward. It was Dr Small who woke me up.

"And in the course of my research and investigation, 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."

Small is a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle East and African Studies, Tel Aviv University and founding director and President of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy.

Halperin's work includes documentaries on Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga and he has been working on 'Wish You Weren't Here' for the past two years.

ISGAP recently launched a petition, 'Boycott Roger Waters - Stop BDS', which reads, in part:

"While Waters speaks about 'tear[ing] down wall[s]', he is one of the leading musicians today erecting the very walls that hinder peace in the region and fuel hatred. This hatred not only affects the state of Israel, but Jewish communities worldwide, as well as all those who care about human rights and democratic principles.

"BDS leaders often claim that the purpose of the BDS movement is to champion Palestinian rights. However, this is highly misleading. As illustrated by extensive research and documentation, the objective of BDS is the complete elimination of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It seeks not to condemn specific Israeli government policies, but to unjustly target Israelis, Jews, and all those worldwide who stand in support of the Jewish state. The tactics of utilizing immoral double standards and strategies of demonization and delegitimization are all expressions of contemporary anti-Semitism."

Small told the Observer:

"We are in a very confused time now. The old religious forms of anti-Semitism and the racist nationalist forms of anti-Semitism are, for the most part, problems of the past. There are three forms of anti-Semitism, and the new one is the demonization and delegitimization of Israel and Jewish peoplehood - and that has become acceptable.

We have to unpack it for scholars and intellectuals but also for popular culture, and that is why Ian's work is so important. Through the film and through this project, we're trying to wake people up to contemporary anti-Semitism and get them to stand up against all forms of hatred as well."

'Wish You Weren't Here' features interviews and remarks by intellectuals and entertainers such as Alan Dershowitz and Howard Stern and will be released late this summer.

22nd November 2016: Kobi Fahri: "Roger Waters Behaved Like The Least Of The Idiotic Politicans."


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