(photo credit: REUTERS)
After months of a back-and-forth battle between Radiohead and BDS activists, the band is slated to set the record straight once and for all, taking the stage Wednesday night in Tel Aviv to play for tens of thousands of adoring fans.
Frontman Thom Yorke has taken the brunt of the online hate from the boycott movement, which has implored the band to cancel the show. Of course, Yorke – and Radiohead – have made it abundantly clear that they have no intention of doing so.
Here are five ways in which Yorke has shown his love and appreciation for Israelis –
who are more than ready to show him the same in return.1. Rolling Stone interview
After weeks of patronizing comments by BDS darling Roger Waters, who slammed the band for not canceling the show, Yorke broke his silence in a Rolling Stone
interview in early June.
"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 at the time. “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."2. Ken Loach tweet
Joining Waters in his sanctimonious battle, British director Ken Loach also publicly called on Yorke
to cancel the show. Yorke didn't mince words in his response on Twitter.
“Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government,” he wrote. “We've played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments some more liberal than others. As we have in America.
"We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America," he continued. "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.”
3. Israeli opening acts
Radiohead will take the stage in Tel Aviv Wednesday night after an opening gig by Israeli artists Dudu Tassa and Shye Ben-Tzur. But the band didn't bring in Israeli performers just for Tel Aviv –
these are the artists that have been accompanying them around the world –
Tassa in the US and Ben-Tzur in Europe. Tassa and his mixed Arab-Jewish band, The Kuwaitis, perform ethnic Kuwaiti and Iraqi music with a modern twist. And Ben-Tzur and his band,The Rajasthan Express, play traditional Indian devotional music in Urdu and Hebrew. Both artists have ties to Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood, who is married to Israeli native Sharona Kattan.
4. Finger to pro-Palestinian activists
While playing a gig in Glasgow, Scotland earlier this month, a group of activists showed up with flags and signs ready to hold a demonstration outside the concert venue. But Yorke wasn't having it. He reportedly gave the group the finger and exclaimed: "Some fucking people?!" While some took offense to the act, it made it clear that Yorke has had just about enough of those questioning his motives and activities.
5. A debt of gratitude
It's a little-known story, but Radiohead actually owes much of its early success to their popularity in Israel. And it's clear that almost 25 years later, Yorke and the band still feel a debt of gratitude to Israel. While their first single "Creep" wasn't doing that well in the US when it first came out in 1993, it landed in the hands of Israeli DJ Yoav Kutner and quickly soared to the top of Israeli charts. In fact, that success led Radiohead to its first-ever international gig –
in Tel Aviv in March 1993. More than 24 years later, the band has graduated from its first show at the small, now-defunct Roxanne club to Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park, where more than 50,000 fans will greet them. The love story, after all, goes both ways.