Despite the pleas from human rights activists, Radiohead played Israel

It was never a case of ‘will they or won’t they’? Thom Yorke was adamant from the start that Radiohead would play the controversial show in Tel Aviv. It turned out to be their longest performance since 2006.

Since the announcement of the show last year there has been bemusement from many human-rights groups and activists. From the entertainment community director Ken Loach and Roger Waters were particularly damning of the groups refusal to listen to criticism over the decision with Waters suggesting that Radiohead ‘educate themselves’ and accusing Yorke of ‘whining’ in response to people’s concerns. Artists For Palestine UK  who led a petition to boycott the show, urged them to rethink performing in a country “where a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people”.


But it never seemed likely that Thom Yorke was going to cancel the show. In a statement last week he said “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government. Music, art and academia is about crossing borders not building them, about open minds not closed ones, about shared humanity, dialogue and freedom of expression.”

The band played 27 tracks and two encores, stating “We came all the way here, we’re gonna play our fingers off.”

Image: J Horovitz / Times of Israel

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