Next month, Radiohead are set to play a show in Tel Aviv that made the band several enemies in the industry. Since 2005, several artists have lent their support to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-led global call to action for a total cultural boycott on Israel until the country closes the West Bank barrier and reinstates Palestinians’ “right of return.” Earlier this year, Rogers Waters and 50 other artists signed a petition urging Radiohead to cancel their show. “Surely if making a stand against the politics of division, of discrimination and of hate means anything at all, it means standing against it everywhere,” the letter read. Radiohead never responded, but now Thom Yorke has made his thoughts known in an interview with Rolling Stone, saying that the band will not be pressured into backing out of the show.
“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] … 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.”
Yorke says that Radiohead don’t agree with the BDS movement, and cites J.K. Rowling and Noam Chomsky as other artists on their side. He also claims that Waters’s decision to target the band has put their mutual friend and producer Nigel Godrich in an uncomfortable position. “Imagine how this has affected me and Nigel’s relationship. Thanks, Roger. I mean, we’re best mates for life, but it’s like, fuck me, really?” he says. (Godrich tells Rolling Stone that he’s “not in the middle of Thom and Roger. Fucking hell, I wouldn’t like to be in the middle of those two. No.”) Yorke also says he finds Waters’s criticism that the band aren’t taking a stand against humanitarian division hypocritical: “All of this creates divisive energy. You’re not bringing people together. You’re not encouraging dialogue or a sense of understanding … if you create division, what do you get? You get fucking Theresa May. You get Netanyahu, you get fucking Trump. That’s divisive.”