Radiohead frontman on BDS: Music, art "about crossing borders not building them"

Thom Yorke, frontman of the alternative rock band Radiohead, responded on Twitter to esteemed British filmmaker Ken Loach, who called on the band to cancel next week's performances in Israel: "We don't endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America...playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing its government."
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Thom Yorke, singer and principal songwriter of the rock band Radiohead, has responded to calls of BDS activists to cancel his performances in Israel next week. In a tweet directed at award-winning British film director and BDS supporter Ken Loach, Yorke explained that a show in Israel does not signify support for its government's policy. He added that the band does not support Netanyahu any more than it does US President Donald Trump, but just as they still perform in the US, they'll continue to perform in Israel.

"Playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing its government," York wrote. "We've played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others."

Ken Loach called on Radiohead to boycott Israel and tweeted on Monday that "Thom's is a simple choice: will he stand with the oppressor or the oppressed?" Loach is part of the Artists for Palestine UK movement and together with Roger Walters and other artists, has pledged to uphold a cultural boycott of Israel.

Yorke in no stranger to the BDS movement; in an interview with Rolling Stone last Friday, Yorke said that the BDS movement is "extremely upsetting" and an "extraordinary waste of energy." In his tweet today, he reiterated that "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." 

During a Radiohead performance over the weekend in Scotland, a number of pro-Palestinian activists waved Palestinian flags and signs calling for the band to cancel its Israel concerts. Yorke shouted some curses at them and continued to perform. "Some f***ing people," he said into the microphone, and proceeded to give them the finger for good measure.

 



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