Israeli historian Ilan Pappe to Radiohead: ‘It would be immoral to perform in such circumstances’

The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has issued the following statement regarding Radiohead’s decision to appear on stage in Israel tomorrow, disregarding appeals from Palestinians and their supporters around the world.

Via Artists for Palestine UK, London, July 18th

‘The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories has not ceased for one day in the last 50 years. This oppression includes daily violations of Palestinian human and civil rights and does not spare children, pregnant mothers, old people, disabled persons and ordinary men and women. The so called peace process has failed to end this oppression and each failure of its various stages has produced more oppression and despair for the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The only way to end this oppression, now in its 50th year, is to send a strong message to Israeli society and government that the world has not forgotten the Palestinians and their demands for an immediate end to the occupation. The only message that works is that of pressure, such as was applied against Apartheid South Africa, and which proved to be effective in bringing down that regime. Such a message can only be carried out through joining the campaign of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the state of Israel. Part of this just and effective campaign is the cultural and academic boycott. It sends a strong message that there is a price tag attached to the inhumanity imposed by the Israeli government and tolerated by its society.

While tens of thousands of Israelis will enjoy listening to Radiohead in Tel-Aviv, millions of Palestinians suffer from killings, deportations, arrest without trial (including of children), closures, checkpoints, absence of water and electricity and confinement in the biggest prison upon earth.

It would be immoral to perform under such circumstances.’

Ilan Pappe


Professor Ilan Pappe is the author of several books including ‘Out of the Frame: the Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel’ (2010) and ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ (2006).

Mike Leigh slams Radiohead for ignoring Palestinians

Artists for Palestine UK statement
London, July 17

Film writer and director Mike Leigh has criticised Thom Yorke and Radiohead for ignoring Palestinian suffering, two days ahead of their controversial Israel gig.

Last week Radiohead front-man Yorke defended the band’s decision to play in Israel and ignore the Palestinian picket-line, arguing that music was about ‘crossing borders’ and ‘shared humanity’.

Today, Oscar nominated Leigh, who is in production for his forthcoming feature film ‘Peterloo’, issued the following statement via Artists for Palestine UK –

‘On Wednesday Radiohead will perform in a Tel Aviv stadium built over the ruins of the Palestinian village of Jarisha. It is a sad fact that Radiohead have failed to engage with Palestinians who have called for them not to play, and that Thom Yorke’s comments are devoid of any reference to Palestinians at all.

As the lights go out in Gaza and Palestinian cancer patients die because they are denied travel permits by Israel, while a Palestinian poet in Israel lives under house arrest for a poem she wrote on Facebook, while a young circus performer from the West Bank languishes in administrative detention without charge or trial – Thom Yorke speaks loftily about ‘crossing borders’ and ‘freedom of expression’. One has to ask, freedom for whom exactly?’


For more on the instances to which Leigh refers see –

Beloved Abeer passes away after being denied travel for treatment outside Gaza

Mohammad Abu Sakha: in prison for making children happy

Political poetry as a crime: Inside the surreal trial of Dareen Tatour



Ken Loach has nothing to apologise for

Statement from Artists for Palestine UK
London, July 15

As UK band Radiohead prepares to perform in Israel on July 19 in direct breach of the Palestinian boycott, leading boycott supporter Ken Loach has faced defamatory attacks on his integrity.

Loach is committed to supporting Palestinian rights

Loach is one of over 1,220 signatories to the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine who have made the following commitment:

‘… In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.’

Because Artists for Palestine UK (APUK)  has always understood the complex problems that artists from all disciplines face around rights ownership once an artwork enters the market, we have been explicit about which practical steps can be expected of artists who support the Palestinian call for boycott, and which  cannot. The guidelines, which have been on the Artists for Palestine UK website since we launched in February 2015, include the following question and answer:

‘Q. I am an artist and I do not have control over who buys the art I produce, nor the circulation of that work once it has been sold. Am I in a position to sign the Pledge?

 Yes, you are. The pledge does not insist that an artist’s work never gets to Israel. You might consider taking the step of making your work unavailable in Israel, if you are able to do that. But no individual can control the circulation of cultural ‘products’ in a global market.

For example, director Ken Loach supports the boycott, yet his films show in Israel because he does not control their distribution. However he will not accept invitations to present his work in Israel under the current political regime.

Playwright Caryl Churchill does not make her work available in Israel, however she made her play Seven Jewish Children freely available for a group of activists, in the context of a political street performance in Israel.’

Radiohead talk about human rights

Radiohead talk about human rights, while cooperating with Israel’s project of whitewashing oppression through glitzy cultural spectacles. Ken Loach, defending the rights of Palestinians, abides by the Palestinian call to refuse professional invitations to appear in Israel. Loach is a film director, not a sales agent. Most directors do not control the rights to the films they make. Loach will give to Palestinian organisations any royalties that accrue from the showing in Israel of I, Daniel Blake. It should be clear to most reasonable people where the hypocrisy lies.

Nobody – no Palestinian group, none of the 47 leading artists who signed the Open Letter to Radiohead – has asked the band to prevent Israelis from buying their music. Radiohead have been asked to cancel their appearance in Tel Aviv, at a stadium built on the ruins of a Palestinian village.

Ken Loach has no case to answer. The Palestinians are still waiting to hear from Radiohead.

Artists for Palestine UK

***UPDATE: Statement from Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien 18.07.2017

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:






Radiohead’s Thom Yorke ‘offended’ by appeal from fellow artists: our response

Following personal approaches to Radiohead by Palestinians, by fans and by fellow artists, on April 24,  Artists for Palestine UK posted an open letter signed by 47 prominent artists appealing to the band to withdraw from their scheduled Tel Aviv gig in July. The letter drew widespread media attention including from Pitchfork, NME, The Telegraph and The Guardian, but the band chose not to comment on the question of standing up for Palestinian rights. Now, in an extraordinary outburst in the pages of Rolling Stone, Thom Yorke lambasts the artists who signed the letter.

Today, on the 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, acclaimed film director Ken Loach reacts to Yorke’s comments:

Thom’s is a simple choice: will he stand with the oppressor or  the oppressed?’  

Artists for Palestine UK issues the following statement:

Radiohead’s concert is itself a political statement,
and a deeply divisive one.

Press statement

London, 5 June 2017

Rolling Stone did well to prise a reaction from Thom Yorke to the many appeals by musicians, Palestinians and others for Radiohead to withdraw from their Tel Aviv concert in July.

These were off-the-cuff remarks, rather than the considered response the signatories to Artists for Palestine UK’s April 24 open letter  – who included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thurston Moore, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Kosminsky, Bella Freud, Tunde Adebimpe and Robert Wyatt among many others – were hoping for.

We read the remarks closely, for some sign Thom Yorke appreciates he and the band are going into a live colonial situation.   We couldn’t find that sign.

Palestinians who read Yorke’s comments will wonder if he knows anything at all about their dispossession and forced exile, and what it’s like to live under military occupation.   He doesn’t mention the Palestinians other than to say guitarist Jonny Greenwood has ‘Palestinian friends’.   A lot of us do, Thom.   That doesn’t mean we think it’s okay to play a 40,000-strong stadium built on the ruins of a Palestinian village.

We don’t dispute Radiohead’s ability to make ‘moral decisions’.   Our signatories simply think Radiohead are making the wrong one.

Yorke complains people have been ‘throwing shit’ at the band in public rather than approaching them privately, but we know of at least three colleagues of the band who have approached them privately – in fact we held off our open letter for weeks in the hope this private diplomacy would yield results.   It didn’t.

Yorke complains about Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and the dangers of divisiveness.   He doesn’t seem to appreciate that Radiohead’s concert is itself a political statement, and a deeply divisive one.   It’s telling the Israeli public they really don’t need to bother their heads with the Occupation and the boring old story of Palestinian suffering.   Throw off the army uniform; forget what you’ve seen and done, because Radiohead are telling you it has no consequences.   They’ve made a moral decision on your behalf.   Radiohead are here to tell you everything’s all right.

Artists for Palestine UK


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.’





‘No one now regrets boycotting apartheid South Africa’

 UPDATE 09.03.2017 From Israeli Citizens: Radiohead, Please Don’t Play Tel-Aviv
Open letter from Israeli citizens to Radiohead : “We urge you to cancel your performances in Israel and not grant your seal of approval to Israel’s ongoing crimes and human rights violations.” 09.03.2017

London, 7 March 2017

Calls mount for Radiohead to cancel Israel gig 

  • Artists for Palestine UK joins growing appeal to Radiohead to cancel Israel gig
  • Palestinian artists say, ‘Stand with the oppressed,  as Brian Eno, Alice Walker and Roger Waters do’
  • Jewish Voice for Peace in South Florida, USA, says, ‘We urge you to cancel, as an inspiration to young people everywhere’

Artists for Palestine UK (APUK), whose Artists’ Pledge for Palestine has over 1200 signatories, called today for UK band Radiohead to cancel their concert in Tel Aviv, scheduled for July 19.
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