Court Reverses Frankfurt Ban on Roger Waters Concert

The ruling in favor of the the Pink Floyd co-founder is being hailed as a victory for artistic freedom and, as one Palestinian rights activist put it, “an epic fail for the Israel lobby.”  

Roger Waters at a rally to Free Julian Assange outside the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington in August 2022. (CN Live!)

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams

A German court on Monday ruled that the city of Frankfurt cannot cancel an upcoming Roger Waters concert amid accusations of anti-Semitism stemming from the Pink Floyd co-founder’s outspoken criticism of Israeli apartheid and other crimes against Palestinians.

Deutsche Welle reports an administrative court in Frankfurt ruled that concert organizer Messe Frankfurt, the state of Hesse and the city are obliged “to make it possible for Waters to stage the concert” — part of the 79-year-old English rocker’s “This Is Not a Drill!” tour — on May 29 as contractually agreed. The city and state had ordered Mess Frankfurt to cancel the show, calling Waters one of the “world’s most influential anti-Semites.”

[Realted: WATERS CONCERT: The World As It Is]

“Politicians don’t have the right to intimidate artists and their fans by banning performances,” Waters said before the case. “I am fighting for all of our human rights, including the right to free speech.”

“I want to state for the record and once and for all that I am not and never have been antisemitic and nothing that anyone can say or publish will alter that,” Waters wrote last month. “My well-publicized views relate entirely to the policies and actions of the Israeli government and not with the peoples of Israel.”

While Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said he was “baffled” by the court’s ruling, Waters’ supporters hailed what human rights defender Steven Donziger called “a win for artistic freedom.”

Screen imagery accompanying the song “Us and Them” during a Roger Waters’ concert in 2022. (Joe Lauria)

Palestinian rights activist Sarah Wilkinson said the decision represents “an epic fail for the Israel lobby.”

In suing to stop the Frankfurt concert, state and city officials cited the artist’s support for the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian human rights — many of whose prominent members are Jewish — as well as his display of a pig-shaped balloon marked with a Star of David during his shows and his comparisons of Israel with apartheid-era South Africa as justification for canceling the performance.

Roger Waters in concert in Raleigh, N.C., 2022. (Joe Lauria)

Senior South African officials have condemned Israeli apartheid, which is being acknowledged by a growing number of human rights groupsaround the world, including in Israel.

While the court found that it may be in “especially poor taste” to let Waters perform at the Frankfurt Festhalle — where 3,000 Jews were imprisoned before being shipped off to concentration camps during the Holocaust — the tribunal said the concert would “not be injurious to the human dignity of those people.”

The court also said that although Waters’ concerts feature “symbolism manifestly based on that of the National Socialist regime,” the shows can be “viewed as a work of art” that “did not glorify or relativize the crimes of the Nazis or identify with Nazi racist ideology.”

There are strict laws in Germany prohibiting the display of Nazi imagery and memorabilia.

In an opinion piece published last month by Common Dreams, Vijay Prashad and Katie Halper — who launched a petition in support of Waters signed by more than 36,000 people — wrote that “in a more civilized world,” Frankfurt “would be giving the well-known musician an award for his courage, not trying to silence him with state censorship for his criticism of Israeli apartheid.”

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

9 comments for “Court Reverses Frankfurt Ban on Roger Waters Concert

  1. LeoSun
    April 29, 2023 at 15:31

    SCORE!!! “Court Reverses Frankfurt Ban on Roger Waters Concert”

    The opposition “opened up a quarrel, between the present and the past, They’re willing to sacrifice the future. It’s the bitterness that lasts. Don’t yield to the fortunes, sometimes seen as fate. Agreement can be had, in the present tense!” (The Living Years)

    “Year after year, running over the same old ground, what have we found?” OPPOSITION! And, there are three (3) things worth having in this world, Courage, Common Sense & Caution!!! i.e., Cheers!!! Roger Waters, like others in his Circle of Friends, rocks all three. The opposition rocked “a new perspective, on a different day,” i.e., “A work of Art” @ the Frankfurt Festhalle, May 29, 2023. (Oh, we wish we could be there)!!!

    AND, “IF, you don’t give up and don’t give in. You may just be okay! Say it loud,” SCORE!! “Say it clear,” A Colossal SCORE!!! Everyone, WINS!!! All the Best!!! Keep it Lit.

  2. CaseyG
    April 27, 2023 at 17:31

    Oh the irony. The awfulness of what Germany did to the Jewish people in WW 2 time, was truly horrific. Although, considering what America did to the Indigenous people of the land is equally horrible.

    I find it so odd that the Israelis have themselves tuned into the ogres that the Germans once were. Sadly those very ogres from Israel have morphed into the ogres that once were German.

    Israel , since 1948 is when they first attacked Palestinians in what is known as NAKBA—and it seemed as if the Israelis had learned nothing—except how to become so nazi like.

    THANK YOU Roger Waters for a job well done.Remember Israel, it’s time to stop modeling your nation on the Nazis.

    • Victor Whisky
      April 28, 2023 at 12:47

      They have forgotten the Warsaw Ghetto. It was bad for Germans to herd Jews into a Ghetto and starve them to death, however, it is OK for Israel to push Palestinians into a crowded apartheid little strip of land, described by a former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, as the largest open air prison in the world. And if you dare point this out, you are immediately branded an antisemite. The biggest antisemites, on a national scale, in the world are the Israelis. Palestinians are semites, and if you believe the Old Testament, Palestinians are brothers of the Hebrew. Zionism is a demented cult, no different than radical Muslims or radical Christians.

  3. Renate Littlejohn
    April 27, 2023 at 13:50

    Finally real justice for the Palestinian people and Roger Waters in Germany. Laws can be manipulated but not justice. Kudos to Roger Waters, he is a great man, a real Mensch.

    • Geoff hughes
      April 27, 2023 at 15:20

      Scary to think that in today’s world people like Waters are considered ‘dangerous’ by the Israeli government when he is championing the human rights of all people living in Israel.YES Arabic people have those rights too.

  4. Valerie
    April 27, 2023 at 10:15

    Ursula is making sure she won’t be accused of anti-semitism:

    “European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has come under attack from Palestine, after praising Israeli democracy in comments to mark the 75th anniversary of Israel’s foundation.

    In a video message posted by the EU embassy in Israel, von der Leyen paid tribute to Israel as “a vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East.”

    “You have literally made the desert bloom,” she added — a comment that was denounced by the Palestinian foreign ministry.”
    Politico dot eu

  5. Valerie
    April 27, 2023 at 08:59

    And so it should be.

  6. Steve Charles
    April 27, 2023 at 08:01

    Bravo Roger,
    These days, any criticism of Israeli foreign policy or the disgraceful oppression of the Palestinian people is met by a barrage of accusations of ‘anti-Semitism,’ which is both a vile slander and a deliberate distracting slur.It comes bubbling out like raw effluent, mainly from poor quality leaders in the Knesset, but which only the dumbest will fall for. The ultra right-wingers in successive Israeli governments have squandered the world’s tearful collective compassion after the Holocaust, and feel they can get away with incessant slow-motion copycat policies of 1930s Germany.

    • Valerie
      April 27, 2023 at 19:06

      And forgotten, is the first “Holocaust” of the Armenian people:

      “The Armenian genocide was the systematic killing and deportation of Armenians by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. In 1915, during World War I, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians. By the early 1920s, when the genocide finally ended, between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. Today, most historians call this event a genocide: a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people.”

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