The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back eight decades, and the region is still no closer to peace. Back room negotiations and public summits at Camp David have proven fruitless to date, leading non-politicans to take matters into their own hands. Of note: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, an outspoken critic of Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinian people, who has called on fellow entertainers to boycott region.
Radiohead, whose guitarist Jonny Greenwood is married to an Arab Jew, recently announced a summer concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, prompting Waters to sign an open letter asking the band “to think again.” “By playing in Israel you’ll be playing in a state where, UN rapporteurs say, ‘a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people,'” the letter notes.
Last week, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke responded to Waters in an interview with Rolling Stone. “It’s deeply distressing that [Waters] chose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public.” Yorke griped, “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. I thought it was patronizing in the extreme. It’s offensive and I just can’t understand why going to play a rock show or going to lecture at a university [is a problem to them].”
Yorke also took issue with how Waters’ comments might affect his own relationship with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. (Godrich recently helmed Waters’ new solo album.) “Imagine how this has affected me and Nigel’s relationship,” Yorke commented. “Thanks, Roger. I mean, we’re best mates for life, but it’s like, fuck me, really?”
Now, Waters himself has responded in a statement issued to Rolling Stone, because “It needs a reply as it doesn’t tell the whole story.” Waters says he did in fact reach out to the band via email on two separate occasions, but Yorke “misinterpreted my attempt to start a conversation as a threat.”
“I have made every effort to engage with you personally, and would still like to have the conversation,” Waters says to Yorke. “Not to talk is not an option.”
Read Waters’ full statement below.
I read Thom Yorke’s interview in Rolling Stone. It needs a reply as it doesn’t tell the whole story.
On February 12th, hoping to start a dialogue, I sent an email expressing my concern about Radiohead crossing the BDS picket line to perform in Israel. A few hours later, Thom replied. He was angry. He had misinterpreted my attempt to start a conversation as a threat. So I tried again.
I’m sorry. My letter wasn’t meant to be confrontational. I was reaching out to see if we could have the conversation that you talk about in your reply. Can we?
I didn’t hear back. So silence prevailed for three weeks until March 4th when I sent a long heartfelt entreaty to Thom asking him again to talk.
In Thom’s interview with Andy Greene of Rolling Stone, in referring to Ken Loach and me, he says, “It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public.”
That is not true, Thom. I have made every effort to engage with you personally, and would still like to have the conversation.
“Not to talk is not an option.”
Today is the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine by Israel. Fifty years living under military occupation. Fifty years for a people with no civil rights. Fifty years of no recourse to the law. Fifty years of apartheid.
The BDS picket line exists to shine a light on the predicament of the occupied people of Palestine, both in Palestine and those displaced abroad, and to promote equal civil rights for all the people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea no matter what their nationality, race or religion. All human life is sacred, every child is our child, exceptionalism is always our enemy. There is no Us or Them, only Us.