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Thom Yorke defends Radiohead concert in Israel: “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government”

on July 11, 2017, 3:17pm

On July 19th, Radiohead are scheduled to play a controversial concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. The performance has drawn the ire of Palestinian activists, who protested at the band’s recent festival appearance in Scotland. A large group of Radiohead’s contemporaries, including Roger Waters, Thurston Moore, and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, have also signed an open letter requesting the show’s cancellation.

In response, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has previously admitted the criticism has gotten to him. “I’ll be totally honest with you: this has been extremely upsetting,” he stated in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. “I don’t agree with the cultural ban at all.”

(Read: Heartbeat: The New Kind of Peace Talk for Israel and Palestine)

Director Ken Loach was among the signers of the open letter, and now he’s struck out on his own with an op-ed in The Independent. In the piece, Loach claims Radiohead has been unresponsive to his attempts to contact the band (something Waters also claimed) and in doing so, they’re implicitly standing with the side that supports apartheid. “Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or with the oppressor. The choice is simple.”

Yorke responded to Loach via Twitter, stating “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government.” As an example, he pointed out that Radiohead still play shows in America despite their disapproval of Trump’s politics. He added, “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.”

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