Thom Yorke has responded directly to director Ken Loach’s criticism of Radiohead‘s decision to play a gig in Israel.
Radiohead are due to play a show in Tel Aviv next week (July 19) and the band have faced calls to cancel the gig, with an open letter recently issued by Artists For Palestine UK – and signed by musicians including Roger Waters, Thurston Moore and Young Fathers – asking the group to “think again” about their decision amid an ongoing and widespread cultural boycott of the country. Glasgow’s TRNSMT at the weekend also saw festival-goers raise Palestinian flags in protest against Radiohead’s decision.
Earlier today (July 11), filmmaker Loach tweeted a link to Yorke of an article he recently penned for The Independent, titled ‘Radiohead need to join the cultural boycott of Israel – why won’t they meet with me to discuss it?’. In it, Loach wrote that Yorke and his band’s “stubborn refusal to engage with the many critics of their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side – the one that supports apartheid”.
Yorke has since responded to Loach’s call for him to decide whether to “stand with the oppressed or the oppressor”. In a statement posted to Twitter, the frontman argued that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government,” adding that “We don’t endorse Netanyahu [Prime Minister of Israel] any more than Trump, but we still play in America”.
Yorke went on to write: “Music, art and academia is about crossing borders not building them, about open minds not closes ones, about shared humanity, dialogue and freedom of expression.” See his statement in full below.
— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) July 11, 2017
Yorke also recently clashed with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters over the issue. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Yorke described the situation as “extremely upsetting”, “offensive” and “an extraordinary waste of energy”, adding of Waters and his fellow critics: “It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public.”
Roger Waters later hit back, saying that Yorke “had misinterpreted my attempt to start a conversation as a threat.”
Radiohead play Tel Aviv’s Park Hayarkon on July 19.