WASHINGTON: The United States government on Tuesday joined the accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Roger Waters after the rock legend wore a Nazi-style uniform at a Berlin concert in what he called a statement against fascism.
Berlin police are investigating whether the Pink Floyd cofounder, a vocal critic of Israel, incited hatred through the May concert in which he wore a long, black coat with armbands.
The State Department weighed in by saying that the concert "contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimised the Holocaust."
"The artist in question has a long track record of using anti-Semitic tropes to denigrate Jewish people," the State Department said in written response to questions.
Germany has strict laws on portrayal of the Holocaust, but Waters noted his demagogic role on stage was not new.
Waters, one of the highest-grossing touring artists of all time, has long taken to the stage in the guise of a dictator as part of a hallucinatory plot twist in performing "The Wall," the acclaimed 1979 Pink Floyd album that touches on isolation, mental illness and political extremism.
"My recent performance in Berlin has attracted bad-faith attacks from those who want to smear and silence me because they disagree with my political views and moral principles," he said in the statement after police opened the probe.
Waters has long criticised Israel, urging a cultural boycott and flying an inflatable pig emblazoned with the Star of David at his concerts.
The rocker, born in Britain and a longtime New York resident, has also triggered controversy by accusing Ukraine of provoking its invasion by Russia.
At the same Berlin concert, Waters appeared to draw parallels between the deaths of several people by flashing their names on a large screen, including those of Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who died in a Nazi concentration camp, and Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist shot dead last year while covering an Israeli raid.
The State Department comment was in support of its envoy on combating anti-Semitism, Deborah Lipstadt, who condemned the rocker's "despicable Holocaust distortion."
Her commentary was in turn a response to her counterpart from the European Union, Katharina von Schnurbein, who said she was "sick and disgusted by Roger Waters' obsession to belittle and trivialize the Shoah," using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.
Decades before the present controversy, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was such a fan of Pink Floyd that he quoted the song "Another Brick in the Wall" in his high school yearbook.