Frankfurt can't cancel Roger Waters concert over his antisemitism record, court rules
May 5, 2023
(JTA) — Frankfurt’s administrative court ruled that the city can’t cancel a Roger Waters concert after calling him “one of the most widely known antisemites in the world.”
Waters, the former frontman of the band Pink Floyd, took legal action and prevailed on Tuesday after Frankfurt officials said in February they would cancel his concert in May. The city can appeal the ruling.
The Frankfurt court ruled that because Rogers “did not glorify or relativise the crimes of the Nazis or identify with Nazi racist ideology” in past concerts, it was not appropriate to cancel the upcoming one.
Waters’ full-throated anti-Israel activism has frequently been accused of veering into antisemitism. In addition to being a leader of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Waters’ has flown a pig-shaped balloon bearing a Star of David at his concerts, spoken about the alleged power of a nefarious Jewish lobby in the United States and compared Israeli actions in the West Bank to South Africa under apartheid and Nazi Germany.
“The background to the cancellation is the persistent anti-Israel behavior of the former Pink Floyd frontman, who is considered one of the most widely spread antisemites in the world,” the city had said in its statement in February. “He repeatedly called for a cultural boycott of Israel and drew comparisons to the apartheid regime in South Africa and put pressure on artists to cancel events in Israel.”
The city noted the historical significance of the Festhalle, the venue Waters is slated to play at, in its statement. During the Holocaust, it was the site of the deportation of 3,000 Jews to their deaths just after Kristallnacht.
The Frankfurt court acknowledged that the site of the concert was tasteless but said the show should go on and be “viewed as a work of art.”
In March, Munich’s mayor said that he had tried and failed to find legal standing to block a Waters concert in his city. “I do not want to have him [Waters] here, but now we’re going to have to endure it,” Mayor Dieter Reiter said.