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Thom Yorke Responds To BDS (13/07/2017)

Thom Yorke has once again defended his decision to play in Tel Aviv this month, this time comparing it to playing in America under Trump.

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Radiohead´s Thom Yorke (AFP Photo/VALERIE MACON)

Radiohead front man Thom Yorke wrote a Twitter response to an open letter from film director Ken Loach criticizing his band’s upcoming performance in Israel on Tuesday.

Radiohead has a performance scheduled in Tel Aviv on July 19th and has faced repeated criticism from the British music community for months, including from protesters at their TRNSMT and Glastonbury performances. Radiohead has performed in Israel multiple times over the past two decades.

Many artists, including Loach, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and guitarist Dave Randall, have written opeds calling for Yorke’s band to observe a “cultural boycott” of Israel similar to the one leveled against apartheid South Africa in the 1980’s.

On Tuesday, Loach published an open letter to Yorke in the Independent, calling band’s defense of their decision to play in Israel and their refusal to engage with critics “deeply disappointing.”

“Radiohead are important to a lot of people around the world, not just because they are accomplished and very distinguished musicians, but also because they are perceived to be a progressive political band,” said Loach.

“None of us want to see them make the mistake of appearing to endorse or cover up Israeli oppression. If they go to Tel Aviv, they may never live it down,” he added.

Yorke responded directly to Loach the same day via a Twitter post, writing: “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government” and “we don’t endorse Netanyahu anymore than Trump, but we still play in America.”

“Music, art and academia is about crossing borders not building them, about open minds not closed ones, about shared humanity, dialogue and freedom of expression. I hope that makes it clear Ken”, Yorke concluded.

This is not the first defense Yorke has put up since calls for his band to boycott Israel began.

In an interview with Rolling Stone back in June, Yorke said: “I would never dream of telling (Loach) where to work or what to do or think. The kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one that’s black or white. I have a problem with that.”

Yorke also noted that Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood is married to a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi and Egyptian descent.

“(Greenwood) has both Palestinian and Israeli fans and a wife who’s an Arab-Jew”, said Yorke said. “All these people to stand there at a distance throwing stuff at us, waving flags, saying, ‘You don’t know anything about it!’ Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny. And imagine how upsetting it’s been to have this out there. Just to assume that we know nothing about this. Just to throw the word ‘apartheid’ around and think that’s enough.”

In his letter, Loach responded that the definition of apartheid fits for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, “all too well. Palestinian men, women and children are forced from their homes only to see Israeli settlers move in, they watch their homes being demolished as illegal construction of Jewish-only homes proceeds on confiscated Palestinian land, they travel on racially segregated roads and face humiliation at Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks.”

After seeing protestors waving Palestinian flags in the audience of Radiohead’s performance in Glasgow on Friday, the rock-star flipped his middle finger at them and reportedly said, “some fucking people.”


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