Radiohead told not to play in Israel, so they did
British art-rock band Radiohead defied protests and calls for a cultural boycott and played a concert in Israel on Wednesday night.
It was one of the band’s longest ever.
The sellout concert at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park — the final show of Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool” world tour — went ahead despite campaigners and activists, including many high-profile musicians and leading figures from the art world and beyond, urging the band to cancel the show because of what they claim is Israel’s oppressive and apartheid-like policies toward Palestinians.
“A lot of stuff has been said about this, but in the end, we played some music,” Radiohead’s lead singer Thom Yorke said at the end of a concert that was their longest in 11 years, according to a Reddit tally. Radiohead played 27 songs.
Prior to the show, Yorke made his views clear as part of a public disagreement with the British filmmaker Ken Loach on Twitter.
“Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government,” Yorke wrote. “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 (Israel President Benjamin) Netanyahu any more than (President) Trump, but we still play in America.”
“Music, art and academia (are) 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.”
But not everyone agreed with the frontman’s rationale and many wanted Radiohead to abandon the gig and abide by an international cultural boycott of Israel organized by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) organization.
BDS and its supporters want the boycott because of Israel’s actions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The majority of the international community considers this territory to be illegally occupied by Israel. Israel refutes that claim.