Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A final message to Radiohead

Dear Radiohead,

We first contacted you in February to explain why we, a group of your fans, felt that you shouldn't perform in Israel. You didn't get back to us. In March a member of our group politely approached Colin at a public event to hand our letters to him. Colin refused to take the letters. Since then we have tried to contact you in various ways, both public and private, and have had no response. You ignored us.

You've also ignored the majority of the artists who have called on you to boycott. When you have responded, you've done so in a way that makes clear you feel like you should be able to act however you want without being questioned.

But worst of all, you've ignored the Palestinian people. It is they who made the call to boycott - not us, not Ken Loach, but the Palestinian people. Thom, you told Ken Loach that music is about crossing borders - well, there are Palestinians who tell you they are unable to cross borders to hear your music. You say music is about dialogue, but you've refused to enter in to any kind of conversation.

Your words are hollow. This isn't engagement, this is public relations.

Many of us have had faith that you'd come round, or at the very least start talking. But all we've been met with is silence and hostility. Many thought that you cared really, had just been given bad advice. But refusing to speak to Palestinians shows breathtaking arrogance. You have conducted yourselves with an unbelievable sense of entitlement.

Being a politically-engaged band is about listening to those without power and being willing to accept you might be wrong. Your conduct over the last five months has shown you are incapable of this. When you walk out on that stage in Tel Aviv this evening, you will show the world that your political overtures are just a facade. Please, stop trying to make money off that image.

You've had the choice of listening to the powerless or siding with the powerful and your decision couldn't be clearer. History will judge you on your actions.

Radiohead Fans for Palestine

Thursday, 15 June 2017

To Thom Yorke - a picnic invitation

Dear Thom,

Next week at Glastonbury Festival we'd like to invite you for a picnic and a friendly chat. When you spoke to Rolling Stone you spoke about dialogue, and we believe that it's never too late to start talking! So meet with us at Glastonbury and let's have a proper conversation.

We'll bring a picnic blanket and some gluten free treats, maybe you can bring something to nice drink? We're thinking the Stone Circle on Saturday afternoon to give you time to recover from Friday night... but if another time and place is better for you we're open to suggestions.

We've always been serious about wanting a dialogue, we really hope you will meet with us at Glastonbury.

All the best,
Radiohead Fans for Palestine

Friday, 2 June 2017

A reply to Thom Yorke's comments in Rolling Stone

Dear Thom,

Let's get one thing clear. You say you're not happy that people "throw shit" at you in public rather than trying to engage. Well, we tried to engage. We sent you letters in the post, we politely tried to hand them to a band member at a public event, we called your agents and your publicists, and you ignored us. Not even an acknowledgement, nothing at all. We tried to open a dialogue and it was you who refused. It was you.

At Glastonbury I will be one of those people "at a distance... waving flags". If you really care, come and talk to us Thom. But don't you dare ignore us and then moan about people not trying to engage.

To demand that people not tell you what to think is pure entitlement. You just don't want to be criticised for your choices. Well, Thom, you're the biggest band in the world and have gotten pretty rich off it. Plus you've been politically outspoken yourself over the years. Now you want the right to do what you want without being criticised? That's pure entitlement. Are we meant to believe you didn't realise this show would attract criticism?

You say it's "mind-boggling" that people don't trust you to make decisions yourselves, yet you apparently think it's fine to use an ableist slur. You're clearly not as politically mature as you think. Maybe you should listen to others a bit more.

You seem to think the call to BDS comes from a group of artists rather than Palestinian civil society. It is the Palestinian people who have asked you to boycott and if you're going to justify your show in Tel Aviv it is them you you should be addressing. Saying you're upset because Ken Loach didn't call allows you to avoid the real point, which is that you are playing on occupied land against the wishes of an oppressed people. And you're ignoring the voices of those people. Do you even care?

You accuse people of throwing the word "apartheid" around. You do realise one of the signatories of the letter was Desmond Tutu, right? You do realise that a United Nations report in March stated explicitly that Israel is imposing apartheid on the Palestinian people? If you actually had any respect for Palestinians, or those artists who risk their careers to speak out, you wouldn't say something so flippant and dismissive. This is a serious situation and none of us talk about it lightly. Have some fucking respect.

Finally, as a fan, I suggest you go listen to 'A Reminder'. When you asked us to hold you to that song, I assume today's comments are what you had in mind.

It is still not too late to change your mind.


Radiohead Fans for Palestine

Friday, 21 April 2017

Letter from Susannah Nachenberg

This letter comes from Susannah Nachenberg, Radiohead fan and member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

I was at the Radiohead show at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley [April 18] - I’m a huge fan. And I unfurled this banner not to shame them, but to show frontman Thom Yorke and the band that they will be losing a huge fan if they go through with their planned concert in Tel Aviv.

The band knows what social justice means - they’ve stood up for Tibet, and against the War on Terror. York even tweeted about not normalizing Trump. And as artists with a conscience, Radiohead should stand in solidarity with Palestine.

Because in a world where Palestinians have freedom of movement and other basic human rights, there'd be no need for an international call for cultural boycott.
Radiohead has not played Israel since 2000. That was before the apartheid wall. 200,000 more illegal settlers have moved into the West Bank and East Jerusalem since then, and there have been three massive attacks on Gaza. 

And more to the point, hundreds of Palestinian civil society organizations have come together to call for an international cultural boycott of Israel until it abides by international law. And Radiohead shouldn’t cross that picket line.

They’d be far from alone. Ms. Lauryn Hill, Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, Bjork and many others have heeded Palestinian civil society’s call. These artists see apartheid Israel for what it is. And most importantly, they’ve embraced their role in making change.

Palestinians don't have a choice to reject or accept apartheid in Israel. It is a daily, grinding experience. Radiohead has a choice to do the right thing. I still hold out hope that they will.


Susannah Nachenberg
JVP Bay Area

PS: Radiohead only has a few more dates left on their summer tour - you can check the schedule here to see if one is near you. It’s rare that we have such a direct way for people outside the US to do on the ground work with us - but if you’re going to a show or would be willing to flyer outside, email and we’ll help you set it up!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Letter from Alison

Dear Colin, Ed, Jonny, Phil and Thom, I am a long time Radiohead fan who can’t believe that you are playing in Tel Aviv this summer. Have you taken leave of your senses? Seriously? I guess you will be playing for Putin next, and then maybe Trump, a special at Mar-a-Lago one weekend, perhaps? I live in London and was planning to come and see you in Milan and Florence in June but I can’t, I just can’t come, when people from Gaza and the West Bank are not able to travel freely within Israel to come and see you play, and experience the wonder of the live Radiohead. It's bad enough that the Israeli government enforces apartheid, but do you have to do so as well? I was listening to Harry Patch (In Memory Of) last week, and as I was doing so, I thought, where is this Radiohead – this politically aware, emotionally attuned, sensitive band that could create and release this – in 2009 and again in 2016? How can you respond to that situation of WW1, and Harry Patch’s experience as the last surviving soldier, with such tenderness and yet also do this in 2017? Why are you willing to break the cultural boycott and play to a segregated audience in Israel? Palestinian civil society called the boycott to combat the state of apartheid that is imposed on them by Israeli authorities. Palestinians routinely have their homes destroyed and their land taken away. It's been that way since 1948. That deserves a song about it too. And to learn that the venue you will perform in, Hayarkon Park, is on the site of a Palestinian village called Jarisha which was wiped off the map in 1948, is just too much for me. You guys have lost it, you really have. Too many New York fashion shows and DJ sets? Too much dope? Wake up wake up wake up and do something that can make a difference. Hold a concert for Palestine. Draw attention to the issues. Write a song. Do a dance. It's not too late. Love Alison 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Letter from Laurence

Dear Radiohead,
To say you have broken my heart is an understatement. You were my first love, long before women ruined my teenage years I grew with you, your music was beautiful, inclusive and always held a special meaning, far from the pseudo hippie bullshit that exists/existed your music had meaning, inspired people and gave great harmony to all of us who enjoyed it. I would love to say I will never listen to another Radiohead song again but I can't deprive myself of that beauty, it's certain to say I will never pay for another Radiohead item ever again in my life. What you are doing to me and to millions of other friends who developed with you, stuck with you and even promoted you because we thought we were promoting something great (as music we were, as people I think we were all mistaken) is similar to having the most amazing girlfriend, beautiful in every way and after almost thirty years together she joins the Nazi party and tells you she's going to fuck an Adolf Hitler lookalike on July 19th 2017 and you just have to sit back and wait to watch her do it. Sure I understand your Israel connection and how this is difficult for you but I hope with all my heart that a small piece of Radiohead's moral compass still exists and you realize you can not be complicit in this outrage, this will be a very dark stain on your legacy, imagine Pink Floyd playing a concert in Nazi Germany with the backdrop being the slaughter of millions of Jews, this is no different, your backdrop will be the massacre of every single man women and child that Israel has and will slaughter, you will represent the shocking injustice of this world, you will be playing to crowds of people who openly endorse and take part in the stealing of land and slaughtering of the rightful land owners. Thom I remember a concert before you were famous where you announced one of your tracks before playing it, you said it would be featured on the "Justice? What Justice?" album, maybe you should revisit who you were and realize what you are doing is wrong and heartbreaking. I will never stop listening to my Radiohead collection that I currently own but I will never spend a penny on your music again, frankly I see little difference in supporting that than I would the Nazi party or One Direction, as people, should you carry out this concert, every single cause you ever fought for, evrything you ever represented will mean shit to me, you will never be in a position to preach or seek justice again when you support genocide. Your sincerely Laurence Joseph Robert Sheridan, Ireland The World Is Watching

Friday, 14 April 2017

Letter from Sarah

Dear Radiohead,

You know about the boycott, of course you do. And you know that this is going to be a contentious gig. Your music is political, you claim to be human rights activists. So here's the question I want answering: why the silence?

It's been a couple of months since you announced you're playing in Tel Aviv. You've heard the outcry from your fans and yet you've said nothing. Either have the courage to come out and explain why you've chosen to play to apartheid, or don't do it. Every day you stay silent your reputation sinks. And right now, you just look like pampered millionaires who think they can do whatever the fuck they want without answering to anyone. As a fan, I'm sad to write that - I always thought if one band was different, it was Radiohead.

Nobody regrets not playing apartheid South Africa and in years to come, nobody will regret boycotting apartheid Israel. This gig will be a black mark on your reputation forever. How much are they paying you? Is it really worth it?

Are you the world's premier political band, or are you too cowardly to come out and justify your actions? Your choice.