R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe stands with Radiohead against BDS

Rocker supports fellow musicians in opposing anti-Israel campaign by Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.

July 17, 2017 16:19
2 minute read.
R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe stands with Radiohead against BDS

Musician Michael Stipe . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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When it comes to the battle of Radiohead vs. Pink Floyd, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe has come down on the side of engagement and dialogue and against the call for boycott.

Stipe took to social media Sunday night to express his support for Radiohead performing in Israel this week, despite intense pressure on them to cancel.

"I stand with Radiohead and their decision to perform," he wrote. "Let's hope a dialogue continues, helping to bring the occupation to an end and lead to a peaceful solution."

Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters has been waging a months-long battle with Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke over the band's slated Israel gig.

Yorke has resisted Waters's efforts to get the band to cancel, and hit back at the singer.

"It's deeply disrespectful to assume that we're either being misinformed or that we're so retarded we can't make these decisions ourselves," said Yorke in a Rolling Stone interview. "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.

On Saturday night, Waters held a live Q&A on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Facebook page, a movement he has long supported.

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke (L) and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (Reuters)

Amid slinging indefensible charges at Israel, Waters said Yorke had been "whining" about his efforts.

"Thom, you shouldn't feel insulted," he said, "Because if you did know what was going on you would have a conversation with Ken Loach or with me."

Loach, a British director, wrote an op-ed last week in The Independent calling on Radiohead to cancel.

"Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or with the oppressor," he wrote. "The choice is simple."

But Loach was caught not heeding his own words, after The Jewish Chronicle reported that his film, "I, Daniel Blake," is currently being shown in Israel. Loach's producer told The Guardian the distribution deal was made "accidentally."

Yorke took to Twitter to respond to Loach. 

“Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government," he wrote. "We don't endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America. 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."

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