ROME (JTA) — An Op-Ed in the Vatican newspaper blasted “unrestrained anti-Semitism” at a music festival in Belgium where British rocker Roger Waters displayed an inflatable wild boar balloon with a Star of David and other symbols.
“The spirit and the style of the Werchter Rock festival was visible, with the fans who had every right to listen to music that they enjoy,” Cristiana Dobner wrote in a weekend edition of Osservatore Romano, referring to the July 20 concert. “But did they also have the right to draw the Star of David on the back of a pig and not be reported? Do we make laws addressing every type of phobia? We continue to talk about the respect for every religion and every human being, yet we keep falling into these shameful situations.”
The Op-Ed did not mention Waters, the former Pink Floyd front man, by name. In his act he used a huge inflated balloon in the shape of a wild boar with a prominently visible Star of David as well as a hammer and sickle, crosses and a dollar sign, among other symbols.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the balloon as a “grotesque display of Jew-hatred” and called Waters an “open hater of Jews.”
Waters, 69, a vocal opponent of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, rejected Cooper’s criticism with a statement on his Facebook page addressed to Cooper, denying he is anti-Semitic. He said other symbols painted on the balloon included a crescent and star, the Shell Oil logo and a McDonald’s sign.
Waters wrote: “Like it or not, the Star of David represents Israel and its policies and is legitimately subject to any and all forms of non-violent protest. To peacefully protest against Israel’s racist domestic and foreign policies is NOT ANTI-SEMITIC.”
Waters has long used inflatable pigs in his act. Often they are emblazoned with provocative political slogans, including anti-religion slogans, such as “All Religions Divide.”
The Anti-Defamation League told JTA it does not think anti-Semitism was behind the act
In the letter, Waters cited the ADL’s position and added: “I have many very close Jewish friends, one of whom, interestingly enough, is the nephew of the late Simon Wiesenthal.”