Radiohead defends Israel gig after criticism from director Ken Loach
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Radiohead defends Israel gig after criticism from director Ken Loach

Lead singer Thom Yorke slams boycott call, says band doesn't endorse Trump but still plays in US

Thom Yorke performs with Radiohead at Philips Arena, Atlanta,  April 1, 2017. (Robb Cohen/Invision/AP)
Thom Yorke performs with Radiohead at Philips Arena, Atlanta, April 1, 2017. (Robb Cohen/Invision/AP)

Radiohead lead vocalist Thom Yorke defended his band’s decison to play in Israel as an issue of freedom of expression after getting into a Twitter argument with British filmmaker Ken Loach.

The argument started when Loach tweeted on Tuesday that “Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or the oppressor. The choice is simple.”

But Yorke defended his stance, saying, “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government. 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,” Yorke said. “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. I hope that makes it clear Ken.”

Loach was the latest in a series of artists — among them former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters — who have tried to pressure the British band to cancel its July 19 concert and a planned university lecture.

Last week, Yorke gave pro-Palestinian protesters the finger and swore at them during a concert in Glasgow, Scotland.

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