Radiohead defies boycott calls for Israel concert
TEL AVIV-Agence France-PresseRadiohead defied calls to boycott Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territory and played for tens of thousands in Tel Aviv on July 19, with singer Thom Yorke having dismissed critics as patronizing.
The band made no reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the pioneering rock group made its way through a more than two-hour set at the Park Hayarkon outdoor venue with some 47,000 in attendance.
Yorke commented only once on the controversy, saying before launching into the band’s final song, “Karma Police”: “A lot of stuff has been said about this, but in the end we played some music.”
The crowd roared with appreciation, as it had throughout other points in the show. Some in the audience spoke of their gratitude that the band had decided to play Israel after all, as it has done in the past.
“Everyone here in this crowd didn’t vote for Benjamin Netanyahu,” said Sarai Givaty, a 35-year-old musician among the crowd, speaking of Israel’s right-wing prime minister.
“They’re playing for the people, not the government.”
In a Twitter post last week, Yorke said “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 (U.S. President Donald) Trump, but we still play in America.”
But those advocating a boycott accused Radiohead of having a double-standard.
A boycott campaign over Israel’s five-decade occupation of Palestinian territory has been under way for years, but Radiohead’s concert received particular attention due to the British band’s reputation for political activism.
Prominent artists including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and director Ken Loach called on Radiohead to cancel its show, as did Palestinian activists.