Frankfurt City Council Undermines Human Rights By Canceling A Concert By Roger Waters Countercurrents

by Vijay Prashad and Katie Halper

After a extremely acclaimed run in North America, Roger Waters will take his “This Is Not a Drill”touracross Europe. The long journey consists of reveals in Germany, with the ultimate live performance in the country initially deliberate to happen in Frankfurt on May 28. On February 24, however, Frankfurt’s metropolis council and the Hessian state governmentannouncedthe cancellation of the Frankfurt live performance, for “persistent anti-Israel behavior,” and called Waters an antisemite.

The cancellation of Waters’s live performance is a risk to free speech and creative freedom. It is designed to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s authorities emanating from the world human rights community and inside Israel itself. Waters’s music has captivated the world for greater than 5 decades. Over that point, he has additionally turn into a respected human rights advocate. In response to the choice by Frankfurt’s city council, artists and human rights leaders, together with Peter Gabriel, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Susan Sarandon, Alia Shawkat, and Glenn Greenwald, have signed apetition calling on the German governmentto uncancel the concert.

In a extra civilized world, Frankfurt could be giving him an award for his courage, not trying to silence him with state censorship.

To be clear, the place of Waters concerning the disparate therapy by the Israeli authorities of Jews and Palestinians—with numerous authorized policies and laws that favor Jews over Palestinians—is nicely within the mainstream of the international human rights community.

A vary of outstanding human rights teams, includingHuman Rights WatchandAmnesty International, as well as United Nations businesses and consultants similar to theUN special rapporteur, argue that Israel’s coverage has created an “apartheid” state within Israel via its occupation of the Palestinian territories. Indeed, in 2021, the revered Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a strongstatementcalling the Israeli government “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” and concluding, “This is apartheid.” The statements Waters has made about Israel are entirely consistent with these criticisms from these respected organizations and institutions.

The conflation of criticism of Israel and antisemitism is dangerous and perpetuates the widespread antisemitic perspective that every one Jews monolithically help Israel. Because antisemitism is a real issue, its weaponization and distortion to stifle reliable criticism of Israel is reckless, and undermines the struggle in opposition to antisemitism.

The Frankfurt City Council’s statement provided no proof for its declare besides that Watershas“repeatedly called for a cultural boycott of Israel and drew comparisons to the apartheid regime in South Africa.” The assertion concerning the “cultural boycott of Israel” is a reference toBoycott, Divestment, Sanctions(BDS), the Palestinian-led movement launched in 2005 that has since gained important support throughout the globe.

We reached out to Waters for his response to the marketing campaign in opposition to him, and he told us: “My platform is easy: it’s implementation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all our brothers and sisters in the world including those between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. My help of common human rights is universal. It is not antisemitism, which is odious and racist and which, like all forms of racism, I condemn unreservedly.”

The official equation of criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism is problematic, but it’s not new in up to date Germany. In May 2019, the German Parliament passed a nonbindingresolutionthat related BDS with antisemitism. This decision followed a series of attacks on organizations, together with numerous Jewish teams (such because the Germany-based groupJewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East) whose advocacy on behalf of Palestinians was, at the similar moment, being classified by the Israeli government as antisemitic.

In response to this focusing on of critics of Israel’s government over its mistreatment of Palestinians, greater than ninety Jewish students and intellectuals signed an openletterin protection of Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East. The last line of that letter referred to as upon “the members of German civil society to battle antisemitism relentlessly whereas maintaining a transparent distinction between criticism of the state of Israel, harsh as it might be, and antisemitism, and to preserve free speech for individuals who reject Israeli repression towards the Palestinian people and demand that it involves an finish.”

In its attack on Waters, the Frankfurt City Council mimicked the current thinking followed by the extremist Israeli government in its weaponization of antisemitism to attempt to undermine critics of its official narrative.

The assault on Waters by the Frankfurt City Council is a half of a disturbing sample in up to date Germany. The Berlin-based Jewish photographer Adam Broomberg, who is well-known for his work on the cruelty and irrationality of violence, discovered himself beingtargetedby town of Hamburg’s antisemitism commissioner, Stefan Hensel.

Hensel has used hissocial mediaand variousnewspapersto attack anyone who supports the BDS motion as being “antisemitic.” His campaign in opposition to Broomberg raised the ire of the photographer, who was born in South Africa and who has an intimate and very private understanding of apartheid. Broombergtoldthe art magazine Hyperallergic that he was confounded by this attack: “For a commissioner of antisemitism, for his first and most vehement and highly effective attack to be on a Jew and to put a Jew’s life and profession in danger, is totally ironic. … I just buried my mom who knew the Holocaust and I come again and I’m accused of being a hateful antisemite advocating for terrorism in opposition to Jews. I couldn’t be extra Jewish,” he stated. “It’s affected me profoundly.”

In early March 2023, Henselposteda photograph of Roger Waters on Instagram in the movie model of his live performance tour “The Wall.” Alongside the image, Hensel wrote: “The motto should be: ‘Roger Waters isn’t welcome in Hamburg.’” Adam Broombergrespondedon Twitter that Hensel’s picture of Waters showing in character as a fascist villain was taken out of context from an “undeniably anti-war film by Waters and [Sean] Evans known as ‘The Wall’ to depict him as a Nazi in an try and cancel his concert.”

This distortion, Broombergwrote, is an example of “German propaganda.”

In July 2022, South Africa’s Foreign MinisterNaledi Pandorwhile addressing a meeting of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa mentioned that “The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own historical past of racial segregation and oppression.” Reflecting on the findings of human rights reviews and UN documents, Pandor mentioned: “These reports are vital in raising international consciousness of the conditions that Palestinians are subjected to, and they present credence and support to an overwhelming physique of factual proof, all pointing to the truth that the State of Israel is committing crimes of apartheid and persecution in opposition to Palestinians.”

Nothing that distinguished worldwide artists like Waters or Broomberg have said could be alien to the content of these reviews or totally different from what Naledi Pandor said at that meeting in Pretoria. Indeed, every thing she said mirrors thelibraryof UN resolutions demonstrating the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the apartheid situations being confronted by Palestinians inside Israel and its territories. The assault by the Frankfurt City Council on Waters just isn’t actually an effort to call out antisemitism; it is, quite, an attack on the human rights of Palestinians.

Vijay Prashadis an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor ofLeftWord Booksand the director ofTricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow atChongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written greater than 20 books, includingThe Darker NationsandThe Poorer Nations. His latest books areStruggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialismand (with Noam Chomsky)The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

Katie Halperis a writer, filmmaker, and the host of the “Katie Halper Show,” a weeklyYouTubeshow,podcast, and WBAI radio present. She is the co-host of the“Useful Idiots” podcastandYouTubeshow and the director of the forthcoming documentary “Commie Camp.” Her writing has appeared in locations just like the Guardian, the Nation, New York magazine, and Comedy Central, and she has appeared on MSNBC, Fox, Rising, and extra. She is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

This article was produced byGlobetrotter.

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