Thom Yorke Continues Israeli Boycott Debate
Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:41:42
Radiohead have been enjoying a pretty good summer. Incredible praise has followed every night of their recent tour, and festival performances — the release of OKNOTOK, an expanded reissue of their 1997 album OK Computer, has wowed critics, and a new videos for archival songs have been pleasing an unrelenting fanbase. However, there has been a cloud hanging over Thom Yorke and his band — that of their refusal to join the cultural boycott of Israel.
In recent weeks there have been open letters, public debates, protesters intruding at their shows, and a series of tweets from members of the arts community, asserting that Radiohead should join the boycott of Israel in response to the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinian people, and disputed territories.
Radiohead are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv next Wednesday, July 19th, and their performance remains the center of a heated debate.
So far the band has received open letter from various artists protesting the concert in view of Israel's human rights violations against Palestinians. Thom Yorke took exception to his critics for not contacting him directly about his stance on the subject. Roger Waters explained, publicly that he did try to get in touch with Yorke repeatedly, there has been no small amount of condemnations from various pro-Palestinian groups.
Today the film director Ken Loach, who has been one of the loudest voices speaking out against Radiohead's decision, published an op-ed for English newspaper, The Independent, further detailing his view of Radiohead's refusal to join the boycott.
Loach unloaded a great deal of criticism on Radiohead, saying, "I don't know who is advising Radiohead, but their 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."
Yorke responded to Loach's piece via Twitter, where he crystallized his view;
"Playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing its 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. 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."
As the day of Radiohead's scheduled performance draws closer it appears as if the debate will continue to intensify, perhaps long after the event itself.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff