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Jewish Students Protest Ahead of Roger Waters Shows on Long Island

More than 70 teens from two Jewish schools picketed outside of Nassau Coliseum Friday ahead of a pair of Roger Waters concerts, calling for the venue to bar the former Pink Floyd frontman from performing there over his support of a boycott of Israel. 

The students held up signs and chanted "Roger Waters stop the hate!" ahead of shows on Friday and Saturday by the outspoken singer and guitarist who supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, a global campaign to pressure Israel to end settlements in Palestinian territories.

They also took issue with comments Waters had repeatedly made in his shows and an inflatable pig that includes a Star of David, among many other religious and corporate symbols.

"People should know that he's not just a regular performer," said student Yidi Reiss. "He's a racist."

Protests have followed Waters' nationwide "Us + Them" tour, which began in Kansas City in May and made stops in Brooklyn and Newark earlier this month. Ahead of this weekend's shows, Nassau County threatened to block Rogers from performing at the coliseum using a recently passed anti-BDS state law, but New York Civil Liberties Union officials urged them not to.

Waters, meanwhile, has said he's not anti-Semitic and that his shows embrace passion and coexistence. And in a Sept. 7 column in The New York Times, Waters criticized the protesters that have appeared at his shows, lambasted efforts to pass anti-BDS legislation at state and national levels and defended his right to call for a boycott.

"Those who are attempting to silence me understand the power of art and culture," he wrote. "They know the role artists played in the civil rights struggle in the United States and against apartheid in South Africa. They want to make an example of us to discourage others from speaking out."

It's hardly the first time Waters has courted controversy for his comments and stances. He has been using the inflatable pig at shows since 2010, and it sparked outrage after a July 2013 show in Belgium, according to Rolling Stone

Waters defended the prop in a Facebook post that year and pointed out that he also used a Catholic Crucifix, the Islamic crescent and star, a hammer and sickle, a Shell oil company logo, McDonald's sign, a dollar sign and a Mercedes-Benz logo in his shows.

In the letter, he added that the star of David represented Israel specifically and was a form of "non violent protest" against the country's domestic and foreign policies. 

The Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit group that tracks anti-Semitism, later responded to his post, saying "while painting a Star of David on your pig may have been free of anti-Semitic intent, your strong animosity towards Israel is indeed riddled with it."

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