Roger Waters may not want to “waste a single precious breath on that asshole” after Howard Stern accused the Pink Floyd co-founder of wanting “Jews to go back to the concentration camp,” but on Stern’s radio show this week, the host made it clear he wasn’t going to lay off the subject. “I’m not the only asshole,” Stern said. “I’m just the only asshole brave enough to take him on. For some reason, it’s become very important to Roger to tell artists where to perform. There’s so many countries with histories of abuse and slavery, but he’s very focused on Israel. To me, he comes off like an anti-Semite.”
Stern’s co-host Robin Quivers was confused by Waters’ acerbic response to Stern. “I think it’s odd that instead of backing up what he believes, he calls names,” she said. “Isn’t that exactly the problem in the Middle East? When does he get to the point of throwing rocks?”
Tuesday’s broadcast of The Howard Stern Show devoted over five minutes to Waters’ “asshole” comment in Rolling Stone, and there were some sharp barbs. “Roger, you keep touring the same 30-year-old album,” he said. “God bless you. I don’t have any hatred for you. I don’t think I’m an asshole … By the way, I checked in, luckily the guys in Foghat have no problem with Israel. It’s just one guy from Pink Floyd.”
Waters and Stern live near each other on enormous estates in The Hamptons, and in 2012 they had an friendly chat on The Howard Stern Show. Things didn’t turn until Stern became aware of Waters’ strong support of the The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) against Israel, and the fact that he publicly chides many performers that book concerts in Israel.
“Defending Israel isn’t fashionable, I know,” Stern said. “It is a tremendous distraction for Arab leaders to say, ‘Let’s get the Jews, let’s get Israel, it’s all their fault.’ As long as their poor people are focused on Israel they don’t wake up and realize who is stealing their money. Their lives aren’t getting any better from all this crap, so don’t be fooled by Roger and his statements.”
Stern isn’t the only supporter of Israel to label Waters an anti-Semite, but Waters told Rolling Stone this month that his opinions of Israel have nothing to do with religion. “It’s not the Israeli people, not Jews, not Judaism,” he said. “I would never dream of attacking them. In fact, a lot of the Israelis are the people who are fighting the hardest because they believe it is the most effective tool for changing policies of their own government.”
But Stern isn’t buying it, though he says he won’t respond with name-calling. “I’m not going to call him an asshole,” Stern said. “It’s what he believes. I just think he’s wrong.”