Protester with Israeli flag storms stage at Roger Waters concert in Frankfurt


Roger Waters in Berlin, May 23, 2023. Credit: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Gabe Friedman, JTA

(JTA) — A man rushed the stage and unfurled an Israeli flag at a Roger Waters concert in Frankfurt on Sunday in protest of the former Pink Floyd frontman’s continued criticism of Israel.

Video circulating on social media showed a group of fans chanting “Am Yisrael Chai” (“The people of Israel live”) while the protester makes it to the main stage, where he lasts a few seconds before security guards chase him away.

Since at least last week, Berlin police have been investigating Waters over a costume he has been wearing at concerts for years that includes a long black trench coat with a red armband. Some say the outfit is reminiscent of a Nazi officer uniform and a glorification of the Third Reich, which is outlawed in Germany.

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A Berlin police spokesman said on Friday that the findings of their investigations would come over the next three months.

Waters, one of the leaders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, has come under intense scrutiny during his current tour, after the cities of Frankfurt and Munich unsuccessfully attempted to block him from performing.

Representatives from those cities, along with German-Jewish communal leaders and several Jewish organizations around the world, argue that Waters’ criticism of Israel crosses the line into antisemitism. The screen at Waters concerts frequently shows a pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with the logo of an Israeli armaments firm.

Before Waters’ show on Sunday, local Jewish groups and politicians gathered for a protest outside the venue hosting the performance, the Festhalle. In November 1938, around 3,000 Jews were taken to the building, where many were beaten before being sent to concentration camps.

Protesters read aloud the names of Jews who were later rounded up on Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” that many point to as the start of the Holocaust, in 1939. Frankfurt Mayor Mike Josef said “Hatred of Jews is to be condemned everywhere in our city,” according to the German dpa news agency.

Waters has also enraged critics by juxtaposing the names Anne Frank and Shireen Abu Akleh on the screen at his recent concerts. Abu Akleh was killed on an assignment in the West Bank last year, and the Israeli military apologized early this month for her death, after admitting that she was likely hit by fire from an Israeli soldier during a raid.

The Polish city of Krakow canceled a Waters concert last year, after the British rocker came out in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.