Radiohead singer hits out at boycott supporters

Thom Yorke says efforts to stop the band playing in Israel are ‘offensive’ and 'patronising in the extreme'


Thom Yorke, the Radiohead frontman, has condemned as “patronising and offensive” attempts to stop the band performing in Israel.

Radiohead, who are due to end their 2017 A Moon Shaped Pool tour in Tel Aviv in July. In April, supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, including Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd band member, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, signed a letter calling of them to cancel their concert, saying it would be “one small step to help pressure Israel to end its violation of basic rights and international law”.

Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine, Mr Yorke, who has also been invited to give a university lecture while in Israel, said: “This has been extremely upsetting. There's an awful lot of people who don't agree with the BDS movement, including us. I don't agree with the cultural ban at all, along with J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky and a long list of others.

“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. 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 s*** 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]".

The singer noted that Sharona Katan, the wife of Jonny Greenwood, a fellow member of the band, is Israeli.

“All these people stand there at a distance throwing stuff at us, waving flags, saying, ‘You don’t know anything about it’,” he said.

“Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny. And imagine how upsetting that it's been to have this out there. Just to assume that we know nothing about this. 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”.

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