Rock band Radiohead has come under fire from outraged celebrity liberals for not canceling their upcoming gig in Israel.
The band, headed by Thom Yorke, are being urged by the Israel-hating celebs– including actresses Julie Christie, Juliet Stevenson and Maxine Peake, Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters, directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh and Archbishop Desmond Tutu–to accede to demands from Palestinian campaigners to cancel the concert which is scheduled to happen in Tel Aviv on July 19.
The cultural boycott, over the “colonial oppression of Palestinians”, was started two years ago by Artists for Palestine. Musicians who have previously pulled out of concerts in Israel include Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, The Klaxons, The Pixies, Vanessa Paradis, Marc Almond, Richard Ashcroft and Brian Eno.
Actors Danny Glover, Riz Ahmed and Miriam Margolyes have also called out Israel because of its stance in the long-term conflict over Palestinian statehood.
Liberal celebrities can be accused of selective outrage — many anti-Israeli artists have no problem performing for authoritarian and repressive regimes that pay top dollar — such as in Arab countries where dissent is quashed and the official punishment for homosexuality is death. Elvis Costello and Roger Waters have both performed in Dubai, for instance.
In a letter to the Radiohead released by the campaign group Artists for Palestine, Radiohead are taken to task for campaigning for freedom for Tibet and playing at a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but yet they “ignore a call to stand against the denial of those rights when it comes to the Palestinians”.
In a supplementary note, TV director Peter Kosminsky (Wolf Hall) described Thom Yorke as “scarily talented” but said he was “puzzled and really saddened to hear that they plan to play in Israel later this year”. He added that Palestinians had “asked for a cultural boycott of Israel, just as campaigners for freedom asked artists not to perform in Sun City [South Africa] during the apartheid era”.
Radiohead, who have played in Israel before, have not yet responded to the demands.