Radiohead's Thom Yorke (Amy Harris/Invision/AP) (Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Thom Yorke

Radiohead’s lead singer blasted Roger Waters and other Israel boycotters, saying they were “patronizing in the extreme” and “offensive” for calling on his band to cancel its Israel concert.

Musician and notorious anti-Israel activist Roger Waters wrote a letter to the Radiohead rock band, calling on the group to cancel its concert in Israel scheduled for this summer. Over 50 prominent figures, including Desmond Tutu, Thurston Moore and Tunde Adebimpe, signed a petition urging Radiohead to cancel the show.

The band’s lead singer, Thom Yorke, pushed back against the boycotters, slamming them for their bullying tactics.

In its ninth performance in Israel, Radiohead will wrap up its 2017 A Moon Shaped Pool Tour at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv in July. Anti-Israel activists have been working hard to sabatoge the event; at a recent Radiohead show at the Greek Theater Berkeley in California, for instance, a large banner was held up chastizing them for playing in the “apartheid” State of Israel.

Speaking to Rolling Stone Magazine, Yorke said that to be “totally honest with you, 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.”

Yorke said that “there are people I admire [who have been critical of the concert] like [English film director] 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**t at us in public.”

He added that “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 patronizing 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 for them].”

‘An Extraordinary Waste of Energy’

He explained that he found academic boycotts even more baffling. “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?”

Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is married to an Israeli and has both Palestinian and Israeli friends. Among the band members, Greenwood has had the hardest time dealing with this issue, Yorke shared.

“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. 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 such an extraordinary waste of energy. Energy that could be used in a more positive way,” he said.

“It’s really upsetting that artists I respect think we are not capable of making a moral decision ourselves after all these years. They talk down to us and I just find it mind-boggling that they think they have the right to do that. It’s extraordinary,” he said.

Longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich said that he, too, is opposed to cultural boycotts. “I don’t think they’re positive, ever. And actually, I think that it’s true to say that the people you’d be denying [the music] are the people who would agree with you and don’t necessarily agree with their government. So it’s not a good idea.”

By: United with Israel Staff