The lead singer of English rock band Radiohead has defended their decision to perform at a concert in Israel, following vocal criticism from activists who advocate a boycott of Israel.
Thom Yorke took to Twitter to explain their decision not to participate in any cultural boycott of Israel, saying: “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.”
He added that the group has “played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others”.
Yorke’s comments were in direct response to an open letter penned by filmmaker Ken Loach, in which he accused Radiohead of ignoring “human rights violations” by Israel. The longstanding spat between Yorke and Loach, one of the most vocal supporters of a cultural boycott of Israel, has resurfaced in recent months, following Yorke’s response to a petition by boycott campaign group “Artists For Palestine” calling for Radiohead to cancel the final concert of their world tour in Israel.
Yorke responded to the petition in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, saying “the kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one that’s black or white… I have a problem with that”.
Loach has accused Radiohead of “appearing to endorse or cover up Israeli oppression,” adding that “if they go to Tel Aviv, they may never live it down”. Loach’s latest film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ was screened in Israel and still being shown in Israeli cinemas.
Radiohead are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on 19 July, alongside Jewish-Arabic band Dudu Tassa and The Kuwaitis.