Pro-Palestine Groups Increase Pressure on Radiohead to Cancel Israel Concert

"We don't dispute Radiohead's ability to make 'moral decisions.' Our signatories simply think Radiohead are making the wrong one"
Pro-Palestine Groups Increase Pressure on Radiohead to Cancel Israel Concert
Photo: Rick Clifford
Pro-Palestine organizations and Radiohead fan groups are upping the pressure urging the band to cancel their upcoming show in Israel.
Under the banner Artists for Palestine, a group of artists — including Roger Waters, Thurston Moore and TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe — issued an open letter to Thom Yorke earlier this year, urging Radiohead to cancel their upcoming July 19 show in Tel Aviv. Yorke shot back in a recent Rolling Stone interview, calling their decision to "throw shit at us in public" both "patronizing" and "offensive," prompting Waters to personally respond and reach out to Yorke about starting a meaningful conversation.
Last week, Artists for Palestine published another open letter, in which the signatories criticize Yorke for making "off-the-cuff remarks" rather than delivering the "considered response" that they were hoping for with their original letter.
The organization also called Yorke out for failing to acknowledge the complicated nuances of the situation, trivializing Palestinians' "dispossession and forced exile, and what it's like to live under military occupation" and using his bandmate Jonny Greenwood's "Palestinian friends" as justification for their actions.

It goes on: "We don't dispute Radiohead's ability to make 'moral decisions.' Our signatories simply think Radiohead are making the wrong one."

Echoing Waters' previous response, the latest letter also lambasts Yorke for complaining about the signatories "throwing shit" at him and claims that they made efforts to contact Yorke and the band multiple times before the original letter was published, but received no response.

As Pitchfork points out, Radiohead fan groups like Radiohead Don't Play Israel also claim that it's made multiple attempts to directly engage with the band, but have been ignored.

"We sent you letters in the post, we politely tried to hand them to a band member at a public event, we called your agents and your publicists, and you ignored us," Seamus O'Brolchain wrote in a reply of his own to Yorke's Rolling Stone comments. "Not even an acknowledgement, nothing at all. We tried to open a dialogue and it was you who refused. It was you."

Other online groups like the Radiohead, Don't Sit Down, Stand Up to Apartheid Facebook group continue to actively campaign against the band's upcoming concert.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign also responded to Yorke's comments, sharing the following statement from director Ben Jamal:

It is saddening that Thom Yorke feels patronised by the union of the union of fellow musicians and Palestinian civil society respectfully asking the band not to cross the picket line. He makes no mention of the reason why — an entrenched apartheid system and an illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza that entered its 51st year today. He accuses South African veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle like Archbishop Desmond Tutu of throwing the word apartheid around. If Radiohead genuinely believe that the Palestinian people misunderstand the nature of their oppression and the response required, then they should meet with representatives face to face to explain how they have come to this judgment as was in fact offered many times previously.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), meanwhile, has shared a statement from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in response to Yorke's comments, which reads:

Thom Yorke got one thing right: boycotts called for by oppressed communities struggling for their rights are indeed 'divisive.' In the Montgomery Bus boycott, the Delano Grape Farmers boycott, the South African anti-apartheid boycott, among others, those who continued business-as-usual with the oppressors were set apart from those who chose to stand on the right side of history, with the rights of the oppressed. Where does Radiohead see itself?

As it stands, Radiohead remain scheduled to play at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv on July 19.