Roger Waters
The inflatable pig floats above the audience during the Roger Waters' performance of The Wall in Belgium

The Jewish watchdog Anti-Defamation League has defended British rock star Roger Waters, a critic of Israel, after he released a pig-shaped balloon decorated with a Star of David over his stage performance of The Wall.

The stunt, performed at a show in Belgium, angered other Jewish organisations including the Simon Wiesenthal Centre who called Waters - a well-known activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel - "an open hater of Jews".

Israelis in Belgium were reportedly shocked at the sight of the Star of David on the blowup pig.

"That was the only religious-national symbol which appeared among other symbols for fascism, dictatorship and oppression of people,"Alon Onfus Asif told daily Yediot Ahronot. "Waters crossed the line and gave expression to an anti-Semitic message, beyond all his messages of anti-militancy."

But the Anti-Defamation League said that the pig was not new and in context was not anti-Semitic.

"This is the same thing he's been doing for years," said Todd Gutnick, director of media relations. "We believe there's no anti-Semitic intent here in the use of the Star of David symbol."

The pig floated over the crowd during the song Run Like Hell. The song is written from the point of view of the anti-hero who imagines himself turning into a Nazi dictator.

"For this most recent tour, the pig appears to have numerous symbols, including a hammer, dollar signs, and sickle and a small Star of David," Gutnick explained.

The Wall is a rock opera that explores abandoment and isolation and uses strong symbolism and imaginery to tell the story of Pink, a character Roger Waters modelled on himself. The self-imposed isolation is represented by a metaphorical wall. Pink's conversion into a fascist dictator is just the last, hallucinatory step in his descent into hell, which will be over only when his inner judge orders him to "tear down the wall".

The former Pink Floyd rock veteran called in March on other musicians such as Alicia Keys to boycott performing in Israel. He told the Electronic Intifada that a boycott of the Jewish state was "the most effective way because the Israeli government runs an apartheid regime."