Polly Samson, Pink Floyd lyricist and wife of David Gilmour, accuses Roger Waters of ‘antisemitism to your rotten core’

Waters says he entirely refutes the ‘incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments’ by former bandmate’s wife

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 07 February 2023 17:16 GMT

Related: Roger Waters believes he’s on a ‘kill list’ from Ukrainian government

Pink Floyd lyricist Polly Samson has accused the band’s co-founder Roger Waters of being “antisemitic to your rotten core”, in an online row over Israel and the Ukraine war.

In an extraordinary attack on Twitter, Samson – who is married to the rock band’s guitarist David Gilmour – also claimed her husband’s former bandmate was a “Putin apologist”, saying: “Enough of your nonsense”.

Waters responded on his official account saying he was “aware of the incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments made about him on Twitter by Polly Samson which he refutes entirely”, adding: “He is currently taking advice as to his position.”

Samson, an acclaimed novelist, wrote lyrics for Pink Floyd’s 1994 album The Division Bell and is credited on solo tracks by her husband Gilmour.

Gilmour and Waters have been feuding for decades since the latter quit the group in 1985 and tried to force the remaining members to formally dissolve it.

Monday’s row between Waters and Samson came as Waters sought to attack the “Israel lobby” for trying to “silence” him amid controversy over his upcoming concerts in Germany.

A number of local politicians and religious leaders called for them to be cancelled over his past comments on Israel, following a backlash in Poland regarding his stance on Ukraine.

In a recent interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, Waters addressed the antisemitism claims against him and doubled down on his remarks on Ukraine, as he claimed that Russia’s war was “probably the most provoked invasion ever”.

Sharing the interview online, under a heading of “the truth will set us free”, Waters hit out at an “outrageous and despicable smear campaign to denounce me as an antisemite, which I am not, never have been and never will be”.

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Waters, 79, said he was targeted “because I lend my voice to the 75-year-old fight for equal human rights for all my brothers and sisters in Palestine/Israel”, and added that he “of course” stood by a past comparison of the Israeli state to Nazi Germany because “the Israelis are committing genocide”.

He added that he thought it “really, really sad” that his former bandmates had released their first single in nearly 30 years, in support of Ukraine, titled, “Hey Hey Rise Up”.

Polly Samson and David Gilmour pictured at the Costa Book Awards in 2020

While Waters and Gilmour have appeared onstage together a handful of times in recent decades, they have not performed together since 2011, with the latter telling Rolling Stone magazine in 2014: “We really don’t have that much in common anymore.”

In an apparent response to the Berliner interview, Samson accused Waters of being “antisemitic” and a “Putin apologist” in a tweet that was liked by her husband and contained other unsubstantiated claims.

She wrote: “Sadly @rogerwaters you are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist.”

The 60-year-old, whose father was Jewish and fled Nazi Germany, has previously appeared to endorse criticism of Waters’ comments on Ukraine, including from first lady Olena Zelenska, but it appears to be the first time she herself has publicly criticised him over the war or his stance on Israel.

David Gilmour and Roger Waters reunited for Live 8 London in 2005

Homes and hospital damaged in Kherson shelling

Despite writing an open letter last March that Russia’s invasion was the “act of a gangster”, Waters told Berliner Zeitung that he “may have changed [his] mind a little bit in the last year”, saying: “Is Putin a bigger gangster than Joe Biden and all those in charge of American politics since WWII?

“I am not so sure. Putin didn’t invade Vietnam or Iraq? Did he?”

Speaking about Mr Putin’s justification for Russia’s invasion, Waters said it was “on the basis of reasons that if I have understood them well are: 1. We want to stop the potential genocide of the Russian-speaking population of the Donbas. 2. We want to fight Nazism in Ukraine”.

He added: “There is a teenage Ukrainian girl, Alina, with whom I exchanged long letters: ‘I hear you. I understand your pain.’ She answered me, thanked me, but stressed, ‘I’m sure you’re wrong about one thing though, I am 200 per cent certain there are no Nazis in Ukraine’.”

“I replied again, “I’m sorry Alina, but you are wrong about that. How can you live in Ukraine and not know?”

The Independent has approached Waters for further comment.

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