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State Department Claims to be Unaware of Ambassador’s Bogus Attack on Roger Waters
Administration claims it is not misusing charge of antisemitism to silence those defending Palestinians
SAM HUSSEINI: Blinken in his speech today before AIPAC, among other things, positively cited Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, ambassador on anti-Semitism. She recently tweeted, “I wholeheartedly concur with [European group] condemnation of Roger Waters and his despicable Holocaust distortion.” The European group had tweeted, “Roger Waters gig in Berlin. Is there anything more antisemitic than using Anne Frank as a prop on a German stage while prancing around in a Nazi uniform attacking Jews?” [Note: There were in fact two European groups involved. This tweet is actually from @eurojewcong. It was quote tweeted by Katharina von Schnurbein, aka @EUAntisemism, from her personal account, who was in turn quoted and tagged by Lipstadt. See below.]
This is an incredible distortion of what happened. I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Wall, which is possibly the most classic rock opera in rock and roll history. It’s an unrelenting denunciation of fascism and racism. One of the songs in it features him as mocking a demagogue like Charlie Chaplin did, and talking to the crowd and saying, “Are there any queers, are there any Jews, are there any blacks in the audience tonight? Get them up against the wall.” And then he gets a machine gun and mows them down.
It’s an obvious attack on fascism, and yet your ambassador is denouncing it and pretending that Roger Waters, presumably because he defends Palestinian rights as well as other people’s rights, is an example of anti-Semitism. Are you going to distance yourself from this, or are you going to back this? —
PATEL: I’ve not seen – I’ve not seen that tweet, nor am I familiar with this piece of expression, so I am just going to refrain --
HUSSEINI: You’re not on Twitter at all?
PATEL: I’m going to refrain from offering anything else.
MATTHEW LEE: Wait, wait. Seriously, you’re not familiar with The Wall?
PATEL: I – surprise, Matt.
LEE: You’re not familiar with Pink Floyd?
PATEL: I know who Pink Floyd is, thank you. I know who Roger Waters is also. I am just not familiar with – with this.
LEE: Okay. Well, he caused a little bit – it caused a bit of a stir a week and a half ago, two weeks ago. So it would be interesting to see, in particular since the – an administration official saw fit to comment on it, what you guys – what you guys think from here.
PATEL: I’m happy to check for you, Matt, but I have --
PATEL: -- not seen the ambassador’s tweet, so will refrain from weighing in further.
HUSSEINI: This is her portfolio. It’s not like one ambassador is talking about a subject that’s not in their portfolio. She is beyond parody distorting anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel. He used Anne Frank’s name as a list of people, of martyrs, who he reveres. It’s an incredible distortion. I think it’s imperative if the State Department isn’t going to wholeheartedly dispense with any pretense about anti-Semitism being an actual problem and only use it as a way of denouncing people who stand up for Palestinian rights, you’ve got to do something.
PATEL: That is absolutely – that is absolutely not --
HUSSEINI: Well, the proof is in the pudding. I want a response to this, please.
PATEL: That is absolutely not our approach to that.
HUSSEINI: Well, prove it.
LEE: I mean look, it is a situation where we’re talking about a British musician giving a concert in Germany. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the U.S., but the fact of the matter is, is that she did weigh in on it. So it’s a legitimate question. [Lee raises a related issue, full video.]
See from Chip Gibbons: “Roger Waters’s Critics Are Smearing Him as Antisemitic Because They Hate His Pro-Palestine Activism.”): “Ambassador Deborah E. Lipstadt used the official Twitter account of the US Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to retweet the European official, including her not-so-subtle call for prosecution. She wrote, ‘I wholeheartedly concur with @EUAntisemitism’s condemnation of Roger Waters and his despicable Holocaust distortion.’”
In the Flesh:
Are there any queers in the theater tonight?
Get 'em up against the wall (against the wall)
Now there's one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me
Get him up against the wall (against the)
And that one looks Jewish
And that one's a coon
Who let all this riff-raff into the room?
There's one smokin' a joint
And another with spots
If I had my way
I'd have all of them shot
Personal irony: I listened to The Wall a hundred times when I was a teen and was a bit hurt that Waters didn’t list Arabs or Muslims in the groups in “In the Flesh” — but I figured he was a person of some substance and would come around. And he did.