Roger Waters might like to "tear down the Wall"—or Israel's West Bank security fence—but that doesn't make him an anti-Semite, he says.
Responding to allegations leveled last week by the Anti-Defamation League that his 30th anniversary tour of The Wall includes imagery that could be interpreted as promoting bad stereotypes of Jews, the Pink Floyd mastermind has quietly made some tweaks to address the criticism.
At the same time, he vehemently denies the group's assertions that what he did was offensive.
At issue was an animation that showed a B-52 bomber dropping bombs in the shape of various symbols including Christian crosses, Muslim crescents, Mercedes-Benz logos, a Shell Oil sign and the communist hammer and sickle.
As well, it featured Stars of David that hovered next to dollar signs.
That was apparently too close for comfort for ADL director Abraham Foxman, who said the sequence of the symbols "crossed a line into anti-Semitism."
"It is outrageous that Roger Waters has chosen to use the juxtaposition of a Jewish Star of David with the symbol of dollar signs," Foxman said in a statement. "While he insists that his intent was to criticize Israel's West Bank security fence, the use of such imagery in a concert setting seems to leave the message open to interpretation, and the meaning could easily be misunderstood as a comment about Jews and money."
The music legend fired back, calling Foxman out for leveling the charges without actually seeing the show. In an open letter to the U.K.'s Independent newspaper, he rejected the ADL's charges and clarified his intent.
"Had Mr. Foxman come to my show before passing judgment and commenting publicly he might, I hope, have held his peace, as there is no anti Semitism in The Wall Show," wrote Waters. "The song to which he refers, 'Good Bye Blue Sky,' describes how ordinary people, military and civilians alike, suffer trauma in the aftermath of war."
He continued: "In so far as The Wall has a political message it is to seek to illuminate our condition, and find new ways to encourage peace and understanding, particularly in the Middle East."
The singer-songwriter also told the Independent that he felt compelled to respond so people don't think he's anti-Semitic, noting "nothing could be further from the truth.
"You can attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish," he said, adding "it's that foreign policy I'm against. It's nothing to do with the religion."
A few days after issuing this declaration, however, Waters did make one small change to the segment: Instead of dollar signs following the Star of David out of the B-52's cargo bay, it now shows the Mercedes symbol doing so.
A rep for the rocker was unavailable for comment.
What do you think? Is the ADL complaint warranted? Check out the video before the alteration from the trek's kickoff in Toronto (the Stars of David start to drop around 1:34 followed by the dollar signs):