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Thom Yorke Speaks Up on Radiohead Israel Controversy: “This Has Been Extremely Upsetting”

BERKELEY, CA - APRIL 18: Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs in support of the band's "A Moon Shaped Pool" release at The Greek Theatre on April 18, 2017 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

This summer, Radiohead will perform in Tel Aviv, Israel. Last month, a group of artists including TV on the Radio, Roger Waters, Thurston Moore, and many more signed a letter urging the band to boycott the show. “We’d like to ask you to think again – because by playing in Israel you’ll be playing in a state where, UN rapporteurs say, ‘a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people,'” the letter read. Now, Thom Yorke has given an interview to Rolling Stone addressing the controversy.

“I’ll be totally honest with you: this has been extremely upsetting,” he said. “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.”

He continued: “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 shit 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 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 to them].”

Yorke also spoke about Jonny Greenwood’s familiarity with the debate, and his annoyance with Waters for trying to getting in between him and Nigel Godrich. (Godrich produced Waters’ latest album, and has been a lifelong Radiohead collaborator.) “Part of me wants to say nothing because anything I say cooks up a fire from embers. But at the same time, if you want me to be honest, yeah, 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.”

Read the whole interview here.

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