Thom Yorke’s words about art ‘crossing borders’ ring hollow in Israel-Palestine

Artists for Palestine UK published an Open Letter to Radiohead signed by 47 leading cultural figures back in April.  Today, we issue the following statement in response to frontman Thom Yorke’s comments via Twitter directed at Ken Loach (copied below).

London, July 12, 2017

Thom Yorke makes a statement justifying Radiohead’s forthcoming appearance in Israel – and once again fails to make any mention of the Palestinians who suffer under Israel’s regime.

Yorke writes that Radiohead have been ‘playing Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others.’ Yet he hasn’t noticed that all successive Israeli governments- liberal and others- have been responsible for systematic war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Last week the UN declared that 10 years of blockade have rendered Gaza ‘unliveable’. The truth is, Israel explicitly uses international artists to produce a glitzy image for itself, when it is in fact a colonial military regime. In the context of Palestinian experience, Yorke’s invocation of a cliché about art and music ‘crossing borders’ rings hollow. Radiohead can cross borders with ease – but no Palestinian can. Palestinian artists and academics can’t cross military checkpoints and the apartheid wall. Many sit in prisons. What about them?

Palestinians are asking Radiohead to stay away until apartheid ends: they’re waiting for an answer.

Artists for Palestine UK

Ken Loach – Thom Yorke on Twitter yesterday:




8 thoughts on “Thom Yorke’s words about art ‘crossing borders’ ring hollow in Israel-Palestine

  1. Zoe says:

    I was put off Thom Yorke & Radiohead since 2006; when during the horrific Israeli bombing of Lebanon he posted something about how if he were them (Lebanese people under the bombs) he would just “leave” & blaming those being bombed for electing Hezbollah.

    That infuriated me. Especially since my Lebanese American family comes from Marjeyoun. (Search the Marwahin massacre re. being told to *leave* & *leaving*). There is something wrong w/ a country/nation/people who tells a people to *leave* their homes to avoid being bombed & then bombs them whilst they are *leaving*.

    I was already completely confused & angered by Radiohead & other musicians supporting Tibetans in the mid & late 90s *during* the 2nd Intifada whilst Palestinians were being slaughtered; which was being shown on televisions all over the world.

    I used to love their music (beginning in 1995) but as an Arab (whose mother was a displaced person from Berlin who barely survived the Nazis & then the British & American bombing & then the Russian Zone… w/ my grandfather taken off the streets of Berlin by Soviet occupying forces for slave labour to Russia) I have always wondered why people perceived Radiohead & Thom Yorke to be saintly in their supposed social awareness; when I have always noticed their hypocrisy. Apparently other musicians & music lovers & people in the arts are waking up to this now too.

    This anti-BDS pro-State of Israel stance they are taking should not come as a shock to anyone who has closely observed Radiohead/Thom Yorke for years.


  2. NMFP says:

    Kudos Thom Yorke, for not being bullied by the dogmatic agenda of political propagandists. The Palestinians claim innocent victimhood, then balk at every genuine opportunity to end occupation, and resort back again and again to the same old call—”River to the Sea, ethnically cleansed of Jews” …while fools, bigots and Roger Waters lay all of the blame on Israel.


    • Martin Crook says:

      You’re comments about Palestinians balking at every available opportunity betrays your ignorance of the historical record. Offering bantastuns (isolated enclaves) , military checkpoints and open air prison conditions in Gaza even during negotiations is like a colonists offering to sign a treaty with an indigenous group who is faced with an overwhelming preponderance of power. If You can’t see (or refuse to) the colonial relationship then you are a blinkered fool only interested in reductive and obfuscating rhetoric


      • Zoe says:

        Thank you Martin Crook. (W/ the relevant family name here – like a shepard’s staff for rescuing fallen sheep from inbetween rocks). Very well said. I think the photo that illustrates this post – of Palestinian men in what amount to human cages – says it all.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.