Tony Blair has been drawn into Labour’s bitter anti-Semitism row after condemning rock star Roger Waters for spewing ‘ideological poison’ about Israel.
The former Prime Minister spoke out after the Pink Floyd singer and guitarist compared the Israeli government to Nazi Germany and called for a boycott by artists over its record on rights for Palestinians.
Waters, a Labour activist and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, said the ‘parallels [between Israel’s actions] and what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious’ and criticised the ‘extraordinarily powerful’ Jewish lobby.
Mr Blair, who frequently defended Israel’s record during his time as a Middle East peace envoy, was asked in an interview if Waters’s remarks were anti-Semitic.
Tony Blair has been drawn into Labour’s bitter anti-Semitism row after condemning rock star Roger Waters for spewing ‘ideological poison’ about Israel
Roger Waters, pictured, called for a boycott by artists over Israel’s record on rights for Palestinians
‘I think the criticism [of Israel by Waters] is so ludicrous that it indicates a basic hostility to the notion of a homeland for the Jewish people… you’ve got to overcome the legacy of that ideological poison which has dripped into the system over many decades,’ he said.
The intervention by Mr Blair – whose own pop career peaked with the group Ugly Rumours as a student – came after a week in which Labour’s annual party conference in Brighton was dominated by arguments about the alleged anti-Semitic beliefs of Mr Corbyn’s followers.
The leader fuelled the allegations by failing to turn up at a reception for Labour Friends of Israel, while his deputy Tom Watson pledged an investigation into how campaigners were allowed to use the conference fringe to question the Holocaust.
The Jewish Labour Movement demanded action over what it says was the use of an ‘anti-Semitic trope’ in the conference hall at Brighton, and called for ‘zero tolerance’ of such comments.
Hard-Left MP Clive Lewis told young Labour activists that political leaders had ‘systematically undermined’ the NHS, the BBC and public services
But Unite union leader Len McCluskey said claims that the leadership was condoning anti-Semitism, racism and misogyny were designed to ‘bring Jeremy Corbyn down’.
Mr Blair was also asked during the interview by campaigning filmmaker Ian Halperin, as part of a documentary about Waters’s political beliefs, whether it was a ‘big insult to six million innocent Jews who perished’ to make the comparison with Hitler’s Germany.
Mr Blair said: ‘Yes. I’m a great fan of the music of Pink Floyd, but I don’t agree with Roger Waters and his campaign. I think it is part of a wider alliance which is dangerous and worries me… which is the leftist-Islamist alliance. It’s a growing problem… there is nothing progressive about a totalitarian ideology.’
A spokeswoman for Waters declined to comment.