Update (7/17/2017): Michael Stipe has pledged support for Radiohead deciding to play the Israel concert via an Instagram post. Whereas Roger Waters has called out Yorke in a Facebook Live interview with the BDS National Committee.
Radiohead's Thom Yorke is speaking out against accusations made by English director Ken Loach. The band is set to be playing a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel and Ken Loach, an avid supporter of the Boycott Israel movement has publicly challenged Radiohead to pull out of the gig. In an op-ed that Loach wrote for the Independent, he explains that "by performing in Tel Aviv they will undermine not only the struggle for human rights but also Radiohead’s own reputation."
Frontman Thom Yorke, has responded via Twitter. In his response, he says:
"Playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing its government. 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."
Radiohead Israel Concert
The band are set to play at one of Israel's major cities, Tel Aviv, on July 19. As stated in Yorke's response, Radiohead have played there several times over a time spanning 20 years. As it stands, the band will be playing the concert at Park Hayarkon, supported by the Jewish-Arabic band Dudu Tassa & The Kuwaitis.
There are artists who are pro the boycott and others who are not. Those who are not include The Rolling Stones, Santana, Bon Jovi and Paul McCartney, who all performed in Israel in recent years. On July 15 the iconic US rock band, Guns N’ Roses, are set to perform there too.
Radiohead at Glasgow's TRNSMT
At a recent concert - Glasgow's TRNSMT festival - the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement protested against Radiohead. The protest involved raising Palestinian flags and waving them during their headlining set while shouting slurs at the band members. The BDS movement began in 2005 and 2017 will mark the first time Radiohead play in Israel since its formation.
Sharona Katan - Johnny Greenwood's Wife
Lead guitarist and keyboardist for Radiohead, Johnny Greenwood, is married to Sharona Katan – an outspoken Arab Jew. Her Twitter feed is filled with tweets that actively try to shift people's perspectives from being against Israel and toward the view that there is no apartheid in Israel.
Thom Yorke mentioned Johnny & Sharona's position when commenting on the protests in Rolling Stones magazine, saying that:
"The person who knows most about these things is Jonny. He 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."
Following Yorke's response to Ken Loach, the Radiohead frontman has subsequently retweeted the band about the OKNOTOK boxed edition of OK Computer. The Tweet contains video content that uses the mystery character Chieftan Mews. In it, Chieftan Mews unboxes his edition, and "Climbing Up the Walls" soundtracks the video. Chieftan has also featured in a similar video for A Moon Shaped Pool. The fictional character was made up by the band and has been used in several videos like the one below.
OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017, was released on 22 June 2017, commemorating the album's 20th anniversary.
Image Source: Daniele Dalledonne