Roger Waters, legendary co-founder of Pink Floyd, due in Lisbon on March 17 and 18

Israel community voices “deep displeasure” at Roger Waters Lisbon gigs

Portugal up till now has avoided “giving stage to extremism and hate speech”

The Lisbon Israeli Community has expressed its “profound displeasure” with the visit of musician Roger Waters to Portugal this month, for two concerts in Lisbon, motivated by “public anti-Semitic speech” of the founder of Pink Floyd.

In a statement released today, the Israeli Community of Lisbon (CIL) “makes public its profound displeasure with the coming of the musician to Portugal, a country that has been able to avoid giving stage to extremism and hate speech“.

Roger Waters, one of the founders of Pink Floyd, will open the European leg of the world tour “This Is Not A Drill” in Lisbon, presented as “the first farewell tour” of the 79-year-old musician. 

The concert scheduled for March 17 at the Altice Arena has sold out; a second concert has been scheduled for the following day at the same venue.

CIL president David Botelho quoted in the statement concedes that “perhaps, many people who will go to the Altice Arena do not know, or are not aware and do not understand the thinking of the musician Roger Waters. (They will) just go to a concert, listen to music and have fun, unaware what Roger Waters thinks and says about the Jewish people and Israel.

“The events production company that invited Rogers Waters, with high probability, also did not consider the anti-Semitic dimension of the artist – only the business one – when it made the invitation for him to perform two consecutive days in Lisbon. 

“Without prejudice to artistic freedom, of creation, of thought and speech, it would have been important if the company that invited him had made that previous evaluation. 

“This way, the doubt will remain as to whether they are in collusion with the musician’s thoughts in relation to the Jewish people and Israel,” the statement continues.

CIL stresses it does not condemn “those who act out of lack of knowledge or ignorance” and does not judge “without knowing motivations”, recalling that the German city of Frankfurt very recently cancelled a concert to be given by the musician in May at a venue (Festhalle) “that was the scene of massive anti-Semitic atrocities in 1938 and where more than three thousand Jews were arrested.

Before Frankfurt, Poland too “actively promoted the cancellation of a Roger Waters concert” – this time over Waters’ position on the war in Ukraine (he blames Ukrainian ‘extremist nationalists’ for starting the conflict, and criticises NATO and the West for supplying arms to the Ukrainian army).

In September last year, urged on by fans, Roger Waters wrote an open letter to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, saying he doesn’t want the world to end in a nuclear attack, because he has children and grandchildren, as do most of “his brothers and sisters around the world”.

“Your invasion of Ukraine took me completely by surprise; it was a heinous warlike act of aggression, whether or not it was provoked,” he said at the time.

CIL stresses “these are dangerous types of behaviour which must be combated with respect, serenity and dignity, but also with commitment, especially if they are committed by public figures with the ability to get their ideas across to millions of people”..

If Roger Waters’ concerts in Lisbon take place, as planned, CIL argues that this occasion “should be an opportunity to reflect on the importance of tolerance triumphing over hatred, moderation over extremism, truth over lies”.  

“And, therefore, on institutions and organisations, all without exception, to consider well the invitations they make to those who profess xenophobic and antisemitic ideologies, because they will be indelibly linked to them,” the statement concludes.

Roger Waters’ “This Is Not A Drill” tour was supposed to take place in 2020, but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The musician only kicked off the new show in July last year with an extensive tour of North America, which will end in October in Mexico.

In a press release, the musician explains that this tour is “an innovative and cinematic rock and roll extravaganza“, with “dozens of great songs from Pink Floyd’s golden era and also some new songs”.