Thom Yorke Once Again Defends Radiohead’s Israel Concert: ‘Playing in a Country Isn’t the Same As Endorsing Its Government’

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Yorke. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella

With Radiohead’s much-maligned concert in Israel a week away, Thom Yorke has issued another statement defending the band’s decision to play Tel Aviv despite complaints from human-rights activists. This time, Yorke says that Radiohead does not support the politics of Israel’s prime minister. “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government,” Yorke writes. “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 Trump, but we still play in America.” This is Yorke’s second response to criticism from director Ken Loach, who previously signed a petition along with Roger Waters and others urging Radiohead to boycott Israel in solidarity with pro-Palestinian rights groups. “There are people I admire like Ken Loach, who I would never dream of telling where to work or what to do or think,” Yorke said at the time.

But on Tuesday, Loach published an op-ed in the Independent condemning Radiohead for allegedly ignoring his and other artists’ requests to meet with the band to further discuss the boycott. “I don’t know who is advising Radiohead, but their stubborn refusal to engage with the many critics of their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side — the one that supports apartheid,” Loach wrote. Last week, a Palestinian activist group held a protest during Radiohead’s concert in Scotland, where they raised up the Palestinian flag and signs when the band took the stage. “Some fucking people!” Yorke reportedly said in response.

Thom Yorke Once Again Defends Radiohead’s Israel Concert