Artists’ statements on Trump and occupied Jerusalem

Today’s edition of The Guardian (December 12) carries a letter signed by one hundred artists, including prominent writers, filmmakers, and musicians, in response to Trump’s ‘recognition’ of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.   The signatories, who include actors Mark Ruffalo and Tilda Swinton and musician Peter Gabriel, said:

In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Donald Trump seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city […]

We reject Trump’s collusion with such racist manipulation, and his disregard for international law. We deplore his readiness to crown the Israeli military conquest of East Jerusalem and his indifference to Palestinian rights.

As artists and as citizens, we challenge the ignorance and inhumanity of these policies, and celebrate the resilience of Palestinians living under occupation.

The full list of signatories is published here.

Separately, some of the artists have issued their own individual statements, one of them in verse. We are proud to publish responses by poet Michael Rosen, musicians Peter Gabriel and Robert Wyatt, playwright Caryl Churchill, writers Selma Dabbagh, Hari Kunzru and Ahmed Masoud, producer Kate Parker, filmmaker Ken Loach, and more below.

 

Image: historic photo of Jerusalem sourced from the Centre for Palestine Studies


 

Facts on the Ground

 

How wise and thoughtful the MPs sound

talking about Israel and the ‘facts on the ground’!

They have ‘reservations about Donald Trump’,

they get a few laughs by calling him a chump

Then they add it’s such a terrible pity

he’s declared that Jerusalem’s the capital city

but then on cue they bring it back round

to talk of Israel and the ‘facts on the ground’.

 

Funny they should mention that word ‘ground’

’cause anyone who’s looked has always found

that that ground, that land, has always had facts:

they are people who, after many attacks

no longer have great stretches of that land

It’s almost as if, from the start, it was planned

so if it was ‘clever’ that I wanted to sound

I could say these people are facts OFF the ground

 

So a logical, factual, thoughtful little phrase

is used by our politicians to give some praise

to premiers and generals with a serious intention

to uproot, remove, destroy (but not mention)

the ground and the facts where this takes place.

Politicians on TV with solemn face

appear to condemn Trump for what he’s said,

but choose to ignore the dispossessed and the dead.

Michael Rosen, former Children’s Laureate


 

This is not about two  equal powers competing for the same city. It is an extension of Israel’s illegal occupation.

Caryl Churchill, playwright


 

Jerusalem must encompass the hopes and dreams of all its peoples and religions, not just those with the most political, economic and military power.

Trump wants to deliver something for those that funded him, but this ‘gift of gifts’ will further encourage an Israeli government that has overseen and encouraged terrible suffering, the theft of yet more Palestinian land through illegal settlements and a very cynical rejection of the “Two State Solution”.

I hope these protests will trigger a reaction around the world to condemn all the human rights abuses inflicted on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government  and by the occupation, and lead to active international support for all those inside and outside Israel working for a just and fair peace and an independent Palestinian state – largely along the previously agreed ‘67 lines.

‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’  Albert Einstein

Peter Gabriel, musician


A hundred years ago , Jerusalem was still so ecumenically varied, at a crossroad to the wider world.  That cultural bio-diversity [Armenian/Christian/Jewish/ Muslim etc] was its magic.

The current nationalist push to create a monoculture there, really does seem to me to be, by contrast, incredibly dull-witted.

Robert Wyatt, musician


 

For us Palestinians, Jerusalem is not about the stones, buildings or historical value.   It’s important for us because it is a symbol of hope, that one day we, too, will have our own state with a capital that has deep roots in the past and offers a place to everyone now and in the future.   Jerusalem for us is about believing that the future will be better than the current state of affairs, that Israeli occupation won’t last forever and some sort of peace deal will take place, that the siege of Gaza will end, checkpoints will disappear and settlements will stop expanding and  will be even dismantled.

Donald Trump has spoiled that dream and hope for us and woke us up to the ugly reality of the occupation and colonialism, imposing his version of what a peace deal should look like. However, we are still here, the Palestinians, the artists, the workers, the doctors, the lawyers, the Diaspora, the farmers, the supporters and the believers in human rights and justice.   We will continue to challenge this unjust decision until the last word we have to write.

Ahmed Masoud, writer & director


 

 

The Palestinian population of Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular has been systematically uprooted from its homeland by methods ranging from the legal to the brutal. Legality, in the form of national laws, is used as a tool of oppression by the Israeli government to strangle the lives and livelihoods of Palestinian Jerusalemites. Brutality backs up these iniquitous provisions. It is for the international community to uphold the role of international law in countering injustices, rather than becoming sway to the provocative cowboy mentality and actions of the Trump administration and its international allies.

Selma Dabbagh, writer


 

 

This announcement has little to do with any good-faith effort to bring peace to Israel and Palestine. Like so many actions of the current US administration, it is destructive and ill thought-out. It seems primarily intended to appeal to the President’s domestic base, among whom are Evangelicals who believe that Jewish control of Jerusalem will hasten the end of history and the inauguration of God’s kingdom on earth. A policy born out of a toxic combination of narcissism and political expediency will serve only to make life more difficult for those who have to manage the situation on the ground.

Hari Kunzru, writer


 

 

Please British government, do the right thing and recognise Palestine. Acknowledge your part in this and lead the way out of it. I spent a week in Gaza in 2014, as the war began, these people have learnt such strength and resilience but it is time they had their human rights restored.

Kate Parker, producer


 

This is a‎ big challenge for the United Nations.   The UN should immediately reaffirm the illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.   The UN should recognise the state of Palestine and, crucially, open an appropriate bureau in East Jerusalem specifically for links with the Palestinians.   Then there should be a call for other countries to open embassies to the state of Palestine in East Jerusalem.

Palestinians have many friends. Where are they now‎?

Ken Loach, film director


 

Jd Meatyard is taking Trump’s malevolent move as a positive, why?

Because Trump’s action has stirred the shameful apathy of politicians on a global scale, the politicians content to see the establishment of apartheid in Palestine, the politicians blind to the systemic abuse of Palestinians on a daily basis.

Now, right now, is a pivotal moment in which we can shine a big bright luminous light on the plight of Palestine and demand change for the good of the people.

I’m on the side of many many Jewish people, as angry as we artists are at the shameful activities of Netanyahu’s government.

Thanks Mr Trump, you’ve invited the world to look again at Palestine, there will be change!

Jd Meatyard, musician

Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was like pouring acid on a festering wound.

Hanan Al-Shaykh, writer


From the web:


 

 

 

Israel’s apartheid regime salutes Nick Cave

Musician and writer Nick Cave declared at a press conference on Sunday that he wanted to ‘make a principled stand’ by crossing the Palestinian boycott picket line, dismissing widespread calls to cancel his group the Bad Seeds’ two concerts in Tel Aviv.  Cave’s words have found him a new fan-base in the form of Israel’s government: there has been an outpouring of public endorsements from its foreign ministry and diplomatic missions across Europe, the U.S., and Australia, as well as from numerous lobby groups.

We have sampled, and reproduced below, tweets from ten Israeli government bodies and spokespeople and seven lobby groups, all of which work hard to counter the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement and promote Israel’s interests.

Nick Cave declared his love for Israel, and the Israeli regime reciprocated, providing further proof, if any were needed, of the propaganda value to Israel of appearances by international artists.  Cave has gifted Israel’s government a PR coup. Yet Israel’s imposition of decades of military occupation and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian population is increasingly being challenged by principled solidarity, including from artists. Instead of helping Israel’s regime to whitewash its violations of Palestinian human rights, we invite Cave to support those working for freedom and rights for all. Continue reading

Leading writers respond to Nick Cave

Israel’s officials wasted no time in reciprocating Nick Cave’s declaration of love for Israel, made at his recent press conference there. Today, leading writers have responded to the musician and author’s claims about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  These statements, published below, follow responses from artists including Brian Eno and Roger Waters. 

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Artists respond to Nick Cave’s comments

Nick Cave has held a press conference in Israel, in which he explained he ‘decided to play in Israel to stand up to ‘anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians’According to the NME: The musician explained that his change in attitude came about when Brian Eno asked him to a sign a list called Artists For Palestine three years ago. “On a very intuitive level, [I] did not want to sign it,” he said. “There was something that stunk to me about that list.”

“So after a lot of thought and consideration I rang up my people and said, ‘We’re doing an European tour and Israel.’ Because it suddenly became very important to me to make a stand against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians. At the end of the day, there’s maybe two reasons why I’m here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people, and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. ”’ 

Today, in addition to a statement from Artists for Palestine UK, we are publishing a number responses to Cave’s comments from individual artists.

*UPDATE Thurston Moore comment added on 25.11.2017

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Nick Cave, who is being silenced ?

Artists for Palestine UK statement.

Nick Cave has used the opportunity of a press conference in Israel to speak out about ‘silencing’. People around the world will be surprised to read that Cave has chosen not to speak out about the trial of the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour or the targeting of journalist Makbula Nasser in Israel; nor the indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial of Palestinian artists, journalists and human rights defenders in the occupied West Bank; nor of the denial of permits for Palestinians musicians or of cancer patients seeking to exit Gaza.

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Artswatch Palestine: August-September 2017

Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.

The Palestine Museum: in search of connectedness

August saw the opening of the Palestine Museum at Bir Zeit. Its first major exhibition, Jerusalem Lives, aims to speak about Jerusalem to Palestinians throughout the occupied West Bank who are prevented from visiting the city.  The exhibition registers Jerusalem’s diminishing place in the world: ethnic domination and the relentless takeover of Palestinian neighbourhoods, are turning Jerusalem from a global city into one which is losing its connectedness to other places. Nigel Wilson in Al Jazeera quotes curator Reem Fadda on a sound installation by Emily Jacir in the museum’s gardens: she asked the taxi drivers ‘to recreate the emotion that was there when they used to take travellers all across the cities of Palestine, from Lyd to Ramle to Ramallah and across the borders into Arab cities; they used to go to Damascus, Beirut and it was all connected’.

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Open letter to Nick Cave: ‘Don’t go – not while apartheid remains.’

October 30th, 2017, London.

Dear Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,

You are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on 19th & 20th November. Please don’t go.

In the words of a recent UN report, ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people’.

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Roger Waters to artists: ‘Why would you ignore your Palestinian brothers and sisters ?’

Asked about the recent decision by artists Nick Cave, Bryan Adams and Thom Yorke to either cross the picket line called for by Palestinian civil society, or announce their intention to do so, Roger Waters has told Artists for Palestine UK:

I wonder if Nick and Bryan [Adams, scheduled to play Tel Aviv December 4 and 5, and Jerusalem December 6] and Thom Yorke and the rest of these guys were to spend even a day or two in administrative detention [without charge or trial], or even once have their kids woken and arrested in the middle of the night, or, or, or……whether they would still ignore the screams of the victims and the desperate pleas for help from Palestinian civil society, whether they would still  cross the picket line.   

And before all the self justification starts, yes, of course other countries have bad records on human rights, not least the USA.   But in the fight for human rights we have to make our stand where and when we can.   In the 60s it was Jim Crow America, in the 80s and 90s it was Apartheid South Africa, now it is Lawless Apartheid Israel.   You stood up for your South African brothers and sisters in the 90s, why would you ignore your Palestinian brothers and sisters in the 2010s?   

You stand at a crossroads; you can either heed the cry, respect your brothers’ and sisters’ picket line and stand with them in their struggle for the basic human rights we all take for granted, or you can turn your backs on them, take the shilling, and entertain their lords and masters at the banquets and balls.  

Chomsky clarifies position on the cultural boycott of Israel

In recent years, people promoting the mantras of ‘constructive engagement’ and ‘bridge-building’ with Israel have cited Professor Noam Chomsky in their defence. He is alleged to oppose the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

Artists for Palestine UK contacted Professor Chomsky to ask him to clarify his position, for the record.

He has given us this statement:

‘I am opposed to any appearance in Israel that is used for nationalistic or other propaganda purposes to cover up its occupation and denial of Palestinian human rights. I’ve been involved in activities to hold Israel accountable for its international law violations since before the BDS movement took shape. While I have some tactical differences with the BDS movement, I strongly support the actions and continue to participate in them.’

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Despite threats Kate Tempest affirms her support for Palestinian rights

Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) strongly condemns threats made against British artist Kate Tempest as a result of her support for Palestinian rights. A poet, spoken word artist and author, Tempest is one of more than 1200 UK-based artists to sign APUK’s pledge to uphold the cultural boycott of Israel. This conscientious decision by so many principled artists stands in stark contrast to the shameful intimidation tactics, including personal threats, directed against Tempest, which led to the cancellation of her concert, scheduled for October 6th 2017 at Berlin’s former airport Tempelhof. Tempest’s management said that she did not want to perform in an “aggressive atmosphere”, having received “personal threats via email and over social media”, adding that they did not want to risk the safety of her team.

Last month eight artists cancelled appearances at Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin, in protest at the festival’s decision to partner with the Israeli embassy in Germany. In response, the festival organisers, media commentators and local politicians condemned these conscientious artists, often in racialised terms, and promoted straight lies about the terms and aims of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement. As the festival drew to a close, the purveyors of this defamatory and abusive rhetoric found a new target, with Kate Tempest identified by German media as a signatory to the APUK pledge. One recent article asked, “Can an anti-Israel activist appear in Berlin?”. Another demanded the city’s Mayor Michael Müller cancel the concert. Continue reading

Why is Jewish Community Centre JW3 celebrating Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat?

AN OPEN LETTER TO RAYMOND SIMONSON,
CEO OF JW3 JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTRE LONDON

From Artists for Palestine UK
Sunday 10 September 2017, London.

Dear Raymond Simonson,

We’re reading the blurb for Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat’s presentation on Tuesday at JW3, and curious to know if JW3 as an organisation supports the views it expresses.

The blurb says ‘Nir Barkat was 7 years old…when Israel’s capital was finally reunited’.   You will know that the United Nations Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and the International Court of Justice consider that East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel.   Where does JW3 stand?

The blurb refers to ‘Jerusalem at 50’ (presumably fifty years of Israeli conquest, since Jerusalem has been in existence in some form since the Canaanites), and calls this ‘the fulfilment of a 2000-year-old dream’.

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Artists slam Israel’s planned occupation of London’s Roundhouse

Roger Waters, Ken Loach, Caryl Churchill and Thurston Moore are among many leading artists calling for London’s celebrated Roundhouse to cancel its involvement with a festival designed to promote Israel as a progressive and liberal destination with a ‘glittering’ capital city.

TLV in LDN is supposedly a celebration of culture, but its director Marc Worth has revealed in an interview that the festival is the dream child of Israel’s diplomatic mission in the UK, and was conceived in response to the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). BDS seeks to highlight Israel’s systemic violation of Palestinian human, civil and political rights. Continue reading

The naked face of Israel – Ilan Pappé on rebranding Zionism

 

In 2007, Wonderwoman star Gal Gadot was poster girl for a new Israeli branding campaign.
Credit: Maxim

In 2007 a poster of an almost naked Miss Israel, Gal Gadot, and a poster of four fit young men, equally barely dressed, were the faces of Israel in a campaign named Brand Israel, commissioned by the government and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The young woman (Miss Israel 2004 and a recent star in the Hollywood blockbuster Fast and Furious) was meant to attract the heterosexual young American to a rebranded Jewish State, while the young men became the faces advertising Tel Aviv as the gay capital of Israel. One wonders how Theodore Herzl or even David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin would have regarded this presentation of Zionism as a soft-porn wet dream. But policymakers had decided that anything and everything was appropriate in the struggle to fend off Israel’s negative image.

This passage appears in the Epilogue  to “The Idea of Israel” by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, published in 2014 with the subtitle “A History of Power and Knowledge”.   A “mordantly witty book” (Jewish Quarterly), it shows how Zionism operates outside of the government and military in areas such as Israel’s literature, education system, media and cinema. Pappé reveals how successive generations of intellectuals have framed the 1948 conflict as a liberation campaign, creating a foundation myth that went unchallenged in Israeli society until very recently. Its perpetuation is the goal of a “Brand Israel” campaign which continues to this day.

Prof. Pappé has kindly made his Epilogue, which focuses on Brand Israel, available to supporters of the boycott movement which seeks to unmask and challenge the weaponisation of culture in Israel’s war against Palestinians.

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Open Letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews

London, 30 August 2017

Dear Gillian Merron,

What are we to make of the UK’s main Jewish organisation calling for the Barbican to remove a video artwork from a science-fiction themed exhibition?

Apparently you had not seen ‘In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain’, the video installation by Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour and Danish author Søren Lind, when you chose to write to the Barbican to demand its removal.

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Award-winning Young Fathers become 8th act to cancel Pop-Kultur

Young Fathers, the Mercury Award-winning group from Edinburgh, have announced their withdrawal from Berlin Pop-Kultur to protest the festival’s acceptance of sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy in Germany.

The band are the third group of UK artists, and the eighth in total, to withdraw from Pop-Kultur in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation and in exile.

Artists for Palestine UK warmly thanks all fellow artists who act in support of the Palestinians’ urgent need for rights and freedom – despite considerable misinformation put out by the festival organisers and in German media coverage.

Young Fathers, who performed in M.I.A.’s Meltdown Festival at the London Southbank in June 2017, said in their statement:

“Young Fathers have a long history of opposing any form of hatred including racism and anti-semitism and we support the principle of a peaceful solution that allows Palestinians the right to return to a safe homeland and that allows Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths (and none) to live together in peace. This is a very tiny act on our behalf in the grand scale of things but one we still believe is worth it.”

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Cancellation of my participation at POP-KULTUR Festival

Annie Goh is is the 6th artist to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kutur over sponsorship by Israel. She issued the following statement via Facebook today, which we reproduce below. Aside from making clear the reasons for her cancellation, she criticises the misinformation put out by Pop-Kultur’s organisers regarding BDS,  and describes as ‘despicable’ smears against the four Arab artists who withdrew from the festival (their principled statements are reproduced in part on our blog here).

Like Goh, we at Artists for Palestine UK have been particularly appalled at the attacks on the Arab artists whose statements to the festival could not have been clearer or more humane in articulating the reason and the object of their protest.

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Artswatch Palestine: June-July 2017

Our regular report on Israel’s war on Palestinian cultural life and expression.
[Pictured: Palestinian-American rapper and video-maker, Abu Rahss]

HOW ISRAEL MAINTAINS A FREE AND THRIVING PRESS

In May 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2222, on the protection of journalists in conflict situations. The resolution ‘condemned all violations and abuses committed against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in situations of armed conflict’.

During the debate on the resolution, Israel’s delegate, David Roet, spoke in praise of his country, ‘a model for how a democratic nation, even while facing immense challenges could maintain a free and thriving press’.

In a statement released on Friday 28th July, the NGO Reporters sans Frontières condemned Israeli forces for using ‘intimidation, denial of access, violence and arrests to limit or prevent media coverage of the demonstrations and clashes sparked by the introduction of additional security measures around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem’

In a statement released on 31st July, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned a pre-dawn raid by Israeli forces on the headquarters of the media production company Palmedia. They ransacked Palmedia’s offices, and destroyed equipment.

In a statement released on 6th August, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Israel’s decision, announced by Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, to close Al-Jazeera’s offices in Israel, revoke the credentials of its journalists and censor its transmissions.

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Don’t play Berlin Pop-Kultur under Israeli Embassy sponsorship!

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL UK MUSICIANS  SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN BERLIN AUGUST 23 – 25, 2017

‘Art goes beyond a single act on a stage; it’s against all that is regressive and discriminatory in this world’
Mohammad Abu Hajar, Syrian rapper

Dear colleagues:

When you signed up to play Berlin Pop-Kultur, you possibly didn’t know that the Israeli Embassy in Germany was a sponsor.   Maybe you also don’t know that Palestinian civil society, living under Israeli military occupation or in exile, is appealing to artists not to take part in events sponsored by the state of Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinians’ long struggle for rights and freedom.

But now that you do know, will you follow the example of the musicians who have withdrawn from Pop-Kultur in the past few days?

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Israeli cultural whitewash fails to impress at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

For the second August in a row, advocates for Israel have used Edinburgh’s huge annual cultural gathering as cover for an attempt to whitewash the state’s decades of oppression and racist discrimination against Palestinians.

Under the rubric of coexistence and cultural cooperation, this year’s International Shalom Festival, staged over three days at a community secondary school, sought to avoid the opprobrium heaped upon its blatantly propagandistic 2016 incarnation.

Last year the event’s organisers, known for working with the Israeli Embassy to undermine and oppose campaigning work in support of Palestinian rights, proudly proclaimed it as a major “Israel advocacy” initiative. This year the same groups – the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS) and StandWithUs – have tried to entice audiences with a vision of Israel as a haven of tolerance and harmony offering “real examples of coexistence”.

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Radiohead gig promoted by Israeli diplomatic missions around the world

Radiohead are a band that many had associated with progressive politics. But now it turns out they have an extraordinary following among Israeli diplomats and right-wing conservatives. From US radio host Glenn Beck and Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, a range of around twenty Israel lobby groups, and thirteen Israeli diplomatic missions around the world from Ireland to Colombia, these groups are united in their explicit contempt for the indigenous Palestinian people’s lives.

The Jerusalem Post described Radiohead’s Israel gig and Thom Yorke’s rejection of the Palestinian call for BDS as “the best hasbara [advocacy] Israel has received lately”. Thom Yorke has defended their decision saying that “playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government”, but the Israeli government and its supporters certainly do endorse Radiohead.
Palestinian, Israeli and UK artists and activists have repeatedly pointed to the inevitable instrumentalisation  of the band’s appearance in Tel Aviv by Israel and its supporters.

Below are samples of government  & lobby messaging from June and July.

 

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