One of Miami’s leading Jewish organizations accused Pink Floyd star Roger Waters of anti-Semitism ahead of his concert Thursday at the AmericanAirlines Arena, as a long-running controversy over the singer’s anti-Israel views follows him to South Florida.
“Anti-Semitism and Hatred are Not Welcome in Miami,” the Greater Miami Jewish Federation stated in an online ad the non-profit placed on miamiherald.com. It linked to a message on the group’s website that called for sponsors to pull out of the concert and stated: “Mr. Waters, your vile messages of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and hatred are not welcome in this community.”
Waters, the former Pink Floyd frontman, has compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to both Nazi Germany and South African apartheid. He is a leader of an effort by artists to boycott Israel, and joined South Africa activist Desmond Tutu in an unsuccessful attempt earlier this year to get Radiohead to cancel a Tel Aviv concert.
The Anti-Defamation League in 2013 urged Waters to stop using “Jewish imagery” in concerts, including a Star of David on a floating pig alongside “a dollar sign and a sickle and hammer.” Waters rejected the allegations, noting the star serves as Israel’s national symbol and saying his criticism was aimed at national policy not Judaism.
“I am anti-war, anti-apartheid, anti-racist, pro human rights, pro peace and pro self-determination for all peoples,” Waters wrote on Facebook in 2013. “I am not anti-Israel or anti-semitic.”
The Waters “Us+Them” tour features hits from his time at Pink Floyd, including “Welcome to the Machine,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb.” The Times of Israel reports that a pro-Israel Christian group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations plans to picket Waters’ July 13 show at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena. Another group, StandWithUs/Southeast, hired a billboard truck to drive downtown Miami Thursday afternoon with an advertisement declaring “”Say NO to Racist Attacks Against Israel by Roger Waters,” according to a press release.
A spokeswoman for the Miami Heat, which operates the arena, declined to comment Thursday. Miami-Dade owns the arena, and Greater Miami Jewish Federation published a statement from Mayor Carlos Gimenez that does not mention Waters but condemns anti-Semitism in general.
“I urge our Miami-Dade residents to uphold the values we hold dear and to reject anti-Semitism in all its forms,” Gimenez said in a statement that a spokesman said was provided to the Jewish Federation at the group’s request. “Not only because it would offend our Jewish residents, but because it would offend all Miamians.”
The controversy prompted Miami Beach to cancel plans to have participants in a drama program join Waters on stage.
On Thursday morning, the Miami Beach Parks Department issued a press release that 12 members from the drama program in the city’s summer camp will share the stage with Waters. From the release: “These teens will enjoy a dress rehearsal with the band, receive autographed photos, have prime seating in the orchestra pit for the show, and last, but definitely not least, will perform with Roger in a choreographed routine to Another Brick in the Wall (Part II).”
But by the afternoon, the Parks Department scratched those plans and issued a statement: “In light of recent information surrounding this event, the Miami Beach Parks & Recreation Teen Club will no longer be participating. Miami Beach is a culturally diverse community and does not tolerate any form of hate.”