Thom Yorke responds to criticism over Radiohead gig in Israel

'It's f***ing weird. It's such an extraordinary waste of energy. Energy that could be used in a more positive way'

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Monday 05 June 2017 09:31
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Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke has responded to criticism over Radiohead's scheduled performance in Israel for the first time.

The band have been urged to cancel the forthcoming gig at Park Jayarkon in Tel Aviv on 19 July as part of a widespread music boycott.

High profile artists from around the world, including director Ken Loach, actors Maxine Peake and Juliet Stephenson, and Roger Waters, signed an open letter calling on the band to reconsider the show.

Addressing the criticism in an interview with Rolling Stone, Yorke said the controversy had been "extremely upsetting" and said he was just one of several prolific figures who did not agree with the cultural ban, alongside J.K Rowling, Noam Chomsky and others.

"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," he said.

"I thought it was patronising in the extreme. It's offensive and I just can't understand why going to play a rock show or going to lecture at a university [is a problem to them]."

Yorke also asked critics to consider how upsetting the controversy was for guitarist Jonny Greenwood, who "has both Palestinian and Israeli friends and a wife who's an Arab Jew".

"All these people to stand there at a distance throwing stuff at us, waving flags, saying: 'You don't know anything about it!' Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny," Yorke continued.

"Just to throw the word 'apartheid' around and think that's enough. It's f***ing weird. It's such an extraordinary waste of energy. Energy that could be used in a more positive way."

The original letter claimed that by playing Israel Radiohead would be "playing in a state where, UN rapporteurs say, 'a system of apartheid has been opposed on the Palestinian people'.

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