Radiohead is currently on tour in support of their 2016 album, A Moon Shaped Pool. However, one tour stop has become a subject of controversy: Israel. The band is set to perform at Park HaYarkon in Tel Aviv on July 19th, and many prominent artists have expressed disapproval of the band’s decision to perform in Israel. From Elvis Costello to Gorillaz, there is a high-profile movement calling for a complete cultural boycott of Israel until Israel’s West Bank barrier is removed.
In April, over 50 influential figures, such as Roger Waters and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, signed a petition for Radiohead to cancel their July 19th performance. The band has been silent on the issue, but now, Thom Yorke is firing back. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Yorke had several harsh words for those protesting the band’s performance. “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,” Yorke told Rolling Stone. He criticized his detractors for “throwing shit at us in public” instead of talking to the band personally.
Yorke was also called on to cancel a lecture at an Israeli university. He called this action a “head fuck,” and challenged his critics by asking, “You can’t go talk to other people who want to learn stuff in another country?” He also revealed that this is an especially sore spot for guitarist Jonny Greenwood, who he described as having “Palestinian and Israeli friends and a wife who’s an Arab Jew.”
Yorke also drew specific attention to Roger Waters in light of Radiohead’s long-time producer, Nigel Godrich, recently working on new music with the Pink Floyd rock star. Waters’ harsh criticism of Radiohead has had an apparent strain on Yorke’s relationship with Godrich: “Thanks, Roger. I mean, [Nigel and I are] best mates for life, but it’s like, fuck me, really?”