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On July 11, Thom Yorke of Radiohead responded to Ken Loach’s piece ‘Radiohead need to join the cultural boycott of Israel – why won’t they meet with me to discuss it?’ via Twitter.

Here is the PSC response.

Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said:

“Thom Yorke doesn’t seem to grasp that the call for BDS, issued by Palestinian civil society in 2005, was not in opposition to Netanyahu’s government. It was a response to apartheid – a system and structure of discrimination that has denied Palestinian human rights since Israel’s inception. Apartheid exists when the state becomes the guardian of the system of racism. When musicians played in South Africa, they endorsed the system of oppression. The same principle applies here. The Palestinian request to meet and discuss is sincere and honest. Thom, if you think you understand this oppression better than the Palestinians who live under it and disagree with how best to tackle it, why don’t you meet with them face to face and explain why that is?”

PSC response to Michael Stipe statement:

“The artists who in the 70’s and 80’s ignored the South African call for boycott of apartheid and chose to play in Sun City usually cited the desire for dialogue and engagement as their excuse. They were encouraged to do so by leaders like Thatcher and Reagan who opposed any policy of boycott. ‘I ain’t going play Sun City’, Steven Van Zandt’s iconic song in support of the boycott contained the line “our government tells us we’re doing all we can… Constructive engagement is Ronald Regan’s plan.”

Ten years after Palestinians called for a policy of boycott divestment and sanctions  in response to Israeli apartheid, some artists trot out the same tired arguments to justify ignoring this call. Michael Stipe has defended Radiohead’s decision to cross the Palestinian picket line by saying he is in favour of dialogue. He, like Radiohead, are not listening to the lessons of history and are ignoring some fundamental moral truths.  Dialogue and negotiation to resolve conflict rely on equality of power  between those in conflict and neutrality on the part of those facilitating negotiation. As Desmond Tutu told us, in a situation of justice and injustice to be neutral is to be on the side of the oppressor. Radiohead have chosen which side they are on and Israel’s supporters are hailing their decision to play in Tel Aviv as a propaganda victory. It is not too late for a change of mind and even at this late stage Palestinian artists are calling for them to rethink. If they do not want to be listed in history alongside those who chose to ignore Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu to play Sun City they should immediately cancel their tickets to Israel.”