Radiohead's Thom Yorke responds as Ken Loach criticises Israel gig

Radiohead frontman argues ‘we don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America’, after film director encourages them to support cultural boycott of Israel

Radiohead’s lead singer Thom Yorke has responded to criticism by film director Ken Loach over the band’s upcoming performance in Tel Aviv.

Loach wrote in a comment piece in the Independent: “[Radiohead’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... Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or with the oppressor.”

After tweeting the link to Yorke, the singer replied with a statement: “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing the government. We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others. As we have in America.


— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) July 11, 2017

“We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more 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.”

Loach is one of those supporting a cultural boycott of Israel over its actions in Palestine; he, along with the likes of Riz Ahmed, Brian Eno and Caryl Churchill refuse to perform in the country, or take funding from their government or institutions linked to it.

Yorke has previously responded to the criticism, telling Rolling Stone in June: “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. It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public. It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves.”

The band have been subject to protests at recent concerts at the Glastonbury and TRNSMT festivals, where sections of the audience unfurled Palestinian flags. After the flags were raised at TRNSMT, Yorke remarked over the microphone: “Some fucking people.”

The Tel Aviv concert is still scheduled for 19 July.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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