On Friday night, while his band Radiohead performed at the TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow, Scotland, lead singer Thom Yorke had a blunt response for protesters who raised Palestinian flags, brandished a “Radiohead: #canceltelaviv” sign, and held demonstrations outside the venue to urge the band to join the BDS movement to boycott Israel.
Before the band launched into “Myxomatosis,” Yorke reportedly repeatedly said over the microphone, “Some f#cking people!” and gave the middle finger to the protesters.
Radiohead is scheduled to play at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv on July 19. The band, among many other performers, has been pressured by BDS supporters to cancel the concert; performers including Elvis Costello, Devendra Banhar, and Gorillaz have folded, canceling their concerts in Israel.
In a disgusting letter to Radiohead on April 23, over 50 celebrities told Radiohead to cancel its appearance in Israel, writing, “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.’” Among those signing the letter were actress Julie Christie; playwright Eve Ensler, the author of the Tony Award-winning play The Vagina Monologues; musician Roger Waters, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of Cape Town, South Africa.
In early June, Yorke spoke to Rolling Stone about the issue:
The person who knows most about these things is [Radiohead guitarist] Jonny [Greenwood]. He has both Palestinian and Israeli friends and a wife who's an Arab Jew. All these people to stand there at a distance throwing stuff at us, waving flags, saying, "You don’t know anything about it!" Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny. And imagine how upsetting that it's been to have this out there. Just to assume that we know nothing about this. Just to throw the word "apartheid" around and think that's enough. It's fucking weird. It's such an extraordinary waste of energy. Energy that could be used in a more positive way.
This is the first time I've said anything about it. Part of me wants to say nothing because anything I say cooks up a fire from embers. But at the same time, if you want me to be honest, yeah, it's really upsetting that artists I respect think we are not capable of making a moral decision ourselves after all these years. They talk down to us and I just find it mind-boggling that they think they have the right to do that. It's extraordinary.