London, April 24th  2017

Dear Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway,

You’re listed to play Tel Aviv in July this year.

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’.   

We understand you’ve been approached already by Palestinian campaigners. They’ve asked you to respect their call for a cultural boycott of Israel, and you’ve turned them down.   Since Radiohead campaigns for freedom for the Tibetans, we’re wondering why you’d turn down a request to stand up for another people under foreign occupation. And since Radiohead fronted a gig for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we’re wondering why you’d ignore a call to stand against the denial of those rights when it comes to the Palestinians. 

Radiohead once issued a statement saying: ‘Without the work of organisations like Amnesty International, the Universal Declaration would be mere rhetoric’.   You’ve clearly read Amnesty’s reports, so you’ll know that Israel denies freedom to the Palestinians under occupation, who can’t live where they want, can’t travel as they please, who get detained (and often tortured) without charge or trial, and can’t even use Facebook without surveillance, censorship and arrest.  

In asking you not to perform in Israel, Palestinians have appealed to you to take one small step to help pressure Israel to end its violation of basic rights and international law. 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 – and that has to include what happens to Palestinians every day.   Otherwise the rest is, to use your words, ‘mere rhetoric’.

You may think that sharing the bill with Israeli musicians Dudu Tassa & the Kuwaitis, who play Jewish-Arabic music, will make everything OK.   It won’t, any more than ‘mixed’ performances in South Africa brought closer the end of the apartheid regime.  Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over. 


Tunde Adebimpe, musician, TV on the Radio
Conrad Atkinson, artist
Richard Barrett, composer
David Calder, actor
Julie Christie, actor
Selma Dabbagh, writer
William Dalrymple, historian, writer and broadcaster
April De Angelis, playwright
Shane Dempsey, theatre director
Laurence Dreyfus, musician and director, Phantasm Viol Consort
Geoff Dyer, writer
Eve Ensler, playwright
Bella Freud, fashion designer
Douglas Hart, musician and director
Charles Hayward, musician
Remi Kanazi, performance poet
Peter Kennard, artist
Peter Kosminsky, writer/director/producer
Hari Kunzru, writer
Paul Laverty, screenwriter
Mike Leigh, writer/director
Ken Loach, director
Lowkey, musician
Miriam Margolyes, actor
Kika Markham, actor
Elli Medeiros, musician
Pauline Melville, writer and actor
Roger Michell, director
China Miéville, writer
Thurston Moore, musician
Maxine Peake, actor
Dave Randall, musician
Ian Rickson, director
Michael Rosen, writer and broadcaster
Alexei Sayle, comedian and writer
James Schamus, screenwriter, director and producer
Nick Seymour, musician, Crowded House
Adrian Sherwood, record producer
Juliet Stevenson, actor
Ricky Tomlinson, actor
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa
Alice Walker, writer
Harriet Walter, actor
Roger Waters, musician
Susan Wooldridge, actor and author
Robert Wyatt, musician
Young Fathers, musicians

[end of letter]

Statements by Thurston Moore, Robert Wyatt, Ken Loach, Peter Kosminsky:

Thurston Moore:
‘If any concerned, humanitarian-conscious activists employ a boycott to protest brutal injustice in their country and request artists and scholars to refrain from working and/or being promoted as supportive of the normalization of that country – then I choose NOT to cross that line and suggest to all to not be complicit. It is a small sacrifice in respect to those who struggle in honourable opposition to state-sponsored fascism.’

Robert Wyatt:
‘These international cultural events are of course great propaganda for this ruling regime’s desperately sophisticated image, fragrant camouflage for their relentlessly accelerating ethnic cleansing campaign in, for example, Jerusalem. Are you really comfortable with that?’

Ken Loach:
‘I do hope Radiohead, and Thom Yorke in particular, realise the damage they will be doing to the Palestinians if they perform in Tel Aviv.  The Palestinians’ land is being stolen, they are being oppressed in every way, their daily lives made intolerable, many are imprisoned unlawfully in Israel, including shockingly, their children.  I’m afraid your pious words will mean nothing if you turn your backs on the Palestinians.  For their sake, and your own self-respect, please think again.’

Peter Kosminsky:
‘Some years ago, I had the great honour and privilege to work with the scarily talented Thom Yorke and Radiohead, when they allowed me to use their music for a film I was making about bullying.  I’ve admired from afar their support for the Tibetans and for Amnesty International, and their championing of human rights.  So I’m puzzled and really saddened to hear that they plan to play in Israel later this year.  I would urge them not to do so.  With Trump in the White House, the situation for Palestinians has become tougher than ever. They’ve asked for a cultural boycott of Israel, just as campaigners for freedom asked artists not to perform in Sun City during the apartheid era.  I think we should assume they know what’s in their best interests and respect their wish, irrespective of other considerations.’






  1. Hussain Currimbhoy says:

    I hope Radiohead can consider canceling this show. I am such a fan of their music, been listening to them since the 1990s and love them – but to perform in Israel wholly undermines the band’s stance on human rights and equality. BDS is the only way to get Israeli’s attention, and convey to them that the world knows their Apartheid is real, it is systematic, it is brutal, it is devastating, and it has to stop.


    • Bill says:

      It continues to amaze me that good Israelis in a large enough number cannot realize the error of their ways. This atheist Palestinian American is pained in witnessing the selfish behavior. My father was a Christian that came to the US in 1947, married a Catholic American and ‘lived happily ever-after’. We all were raised without any religious training/indoctrination and regard all life as deserving of respect and kindness. I played rugby for 13 years [not well], and fear no one. I have spoken in a synagogue to share my revelation about the depth of my love for my two sons and four grandchildren being no different to what an Israeli father must experience of his own children; we must find a way to share the remaining sandwiches on the platter of life!


  2. Mauricio Sol says:

    The worst hypocrites are the ones that want to show that they’re not. We all (as humans) are hypocrites but there are levels and you’re only demonstrating that you are part of the worst.
    Let music make bridges not walls. And I don’t know if you have heard that Thom accepts his human state saying that yep, he feel hypocrite. C’mon guys, want some attention? Why don’t we start by banning UK and US? I just can’t get it. I’ve been reading comments of posts of different sources that are sharing your letter and most of people around the world share the same idea… that Radiohead and any band should play wherever their fans requires them.


  3. Emmaluna Boulting says:

    I, too am a huge Radiohead fan but if they choose to go ahead and perform in a country such as Israel who flagrantly violate the human rights of Palestinians and continue to illegally occupy Palestinian territory then that colours their music for me with that bloodshed.
    I am deeply saddened for their lack of comment on this subject and their initial agreement to even consider performing in Israel given the relentless oppression levelled at Palestine and its people.
    I stand by and support any artist boycott of Israel until the wall comes down and Israel ends its illegal occupation of Palestine.
    I will never understand how those that were so oppressed themselves not so long ago could go on to be so oppressive to others.


  4. Diana says:

    Radiohead never disappoints me until they posted on their Instagram that they will be playing Tel Aviv. All their previous acts for and lyrics about nothing means nothing now. I am aware that they probably have their own reasons (for art’s sake, for example), but still, it is not that hard to realize the prolonged unjustice faced by the Palestinians caused by Israel.


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