Radiohead faces boycott after giving a concert in Israel

Lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood hit back at BDS supporters, calling their desire to silence Israeli creatives "unprogressive."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

On May 26, Radiohead performed in Tel Aviv's Barby Club alongside Israeli singer Dudu Tassa, with whom the English band will be touring in Europe this summer alongside the Kuwaitis. The decision to play in Israel was met with hostility from boycott, divest, and sanctions activists, who accused the rock stars of "artwashing" the ongoing conflict and vowed to disrupt their upcoming events.

Lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood hit back at BDS supporters, calling their desire to silence Israeli creatives "unprogressive" and pointing out that music has long been a force that unites, not divides. He was unfazed by the threats, and said the band will continue their tour as planned.

"Palestinians unequivocally condemn Jonny Greenwood's shameful artwashing of Israel's genocide," BDS activists wrote in a statement, per the Guardian. "We call for peaceful creative pressure on his band Radiohead to convincingly distance itself from this blatant complicity in the crime of crimes, or face grassroots measures."

"I've been collaborating with Dudu and releasing music with him since 2008, and working privately long before that," Greenwood wrote in a response on Tuesday. "I think an artistic project that combines Arab and Jewish musicians is worthwhile." He pointed out that Dudu's own grandfather was "perhaps the most famous Iraqui composer ... who's songs are still staples of Arab-wide radio stations."

Greenwood went on to say that, "the silencing of Israeli film makers / musicians / dancers when their work tours abroad ... feels unprogressive," noting that, "it's these people that are invariably the most progressive members of any society."

"I'm grateful to be working with the remarkable musicians I've met during this project," he continued, "all of whom strike me as much braver - and taking far more of a principled risk - than those who are trying to shut us down, or who are now attempting to ascribe a sinister ulterior motivation to the band's existence. There isn't one: we are musicians honouring a shared culture, and I've been involved in this for nearly 20 years now."

Greenwood, who is married to Israeli artist Sharona Katan, took part in protests in Tel Aviv the day before the concert in which he called for the hostages to be released and voiced his support for an election to be held in Israel. 

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