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Thom Yorke refuses to back down over Radiohead's controversial show in Israel


Thom Yorke has responded directly to film director Ken Loach to refute criticism over Radiohead’s planned show in Tel Aviv next Wednesday.

The criticism comes as a collection of the world’s leading artists have called on Radiohead to chancel their arranged show in Israel.

Pro-Palestine supporters have continued to protest Radiohead’s performances, the most recent coming during their headline set at TRNSMT Festival in which Yorke can be heard repeating the phrase “some fucking people,” in frustration. 

Thurston Moore, Ken Loach, Roger Waters, Maxine Peak and the Young Fathers are among the 46 musicians, artists, writers and actors to have signed the open letter in relation to Radiohead’s gig at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on July 19.

“It is a small sacrifice in respect to those who struggle in honourable opposition to state-sponsored fascism,” Thurston Moore said.

Now, in a direct response to Loach’s criticism on Twitter, Yorke explained how “freedom of expression” is the reason why the band will go ahead with the show:

“Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government,” Yorke wrote on Twitter

“We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others.
As we have in America.

“We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America.

“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. I hope that makes it clear Ken.”

Having recently addressed the criticism of the planned performance, explaining how he has found the process of artists’ he respects telling the band what to do ‘upsetting’.

Yorke, in an interview with Rolling Stone, said: “I’ll be totally honest with you: this has been extremely upsetting,” when the question was put to him. 

“There are people I admire [who have been critical of the concert] like Ken Loach, who I would never dream of telling where to work or what to do or think,” he continued.  “The kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one that’s black or white. I have a problem with that. It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public. 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. 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].

[MORE] – Roger Waters responds to Radiohead criticism over Israel show. 

“The university thing is more of a head fuck for me,” Yorke said. “It’s like, really? You can’t go talk to other people who want to learn stuff in another country? Really? The one place where you need to be free to express everything you possibly can. You want to tell these people you can’t do that? And you think that’s gonna help?”