Radiohead should not perform in Israel

  • Radiohead’s decision to play in Israel (Report, 15 July) is a slap in the face to Palestinians across the world.
  • And yet the only people creating borders in Palestine are Israel and its allies.
  • Based on their responses to the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, we wonder if Radiohead, too, would have performed in Sun City while Nelson Mandela and others rotted in Robben Island prison.
  • Radiohead will be performing for an audience that will be mostly Israelis who have served in the Israeli armed forces that are slaughtering our people: 1,400 Palestinians in 22 days in the winter of 2008-09, then more than 2,200 in 50 days in 2014, including over 500 children.
  • Khalil Al-Batsh Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel, Gaza

    Huda Ammori Student, Manchester

    Malaka Mohammed PhD student, Exeter University

    Haidar Eid Academic and writer, Gaza

    Ahmed Abbelfattah Quantity surveyor, Manchester

    Odai AbbelFattah Project manager, Manchester

    Yahya Abu Seido Medical student, London

    Yara Hawari PhD student, Exeter University

    Ayat Hamadan PhD student, Exeter University

    Diana Alghoul Journalist, London

    Abdulla Al Shamataan Student, London

    Dima AlShami Student, London

    Samir Eskanda Musician, London

    Sara Mohtaseb Edinburgh

    Yousef Mama Nurse, Gaza

    Amani Kayed Student, Ramallah

    Dr Issam Hijjawi Chair of Association of Palestinian Community in Scotland

    Rama Sahtout PhD student, Exeter University

    Mohammed Abdelfattah Chemist, Bury

    Shahd Abusalama SOAS, University of London

    Enas Mohammed Student, Palestine University, Gaza

    Beth Jamal Student, Cambridge University

    Ahmed Mohammed Student, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza

    Laith Itmaiza Politician, Ramallah

    Zakaraih Anis Engineer, London

    Caaron Butt Carer, Walsall

    Zeena Jojo LSE

    Beleigh Jbara Lawyer, London

    Doaa Althalathini PhD student, Plymouth

    Salaheddin AbuEin London

    Nowsheen Khondoker Student, London

    Hazem Anuhabibi Student, University of Sussex

    Ahmed Issa Student, Islamic University of Gaza

    Lobna Mohammed Student, Islamic University of Gaza

    Motaz Aljedaili Manchester

    Mahmoud Abdou London

    Marwan Hanbali Student, Cardiff University

    Ahmed Abu Azzom Student, Gaza

    Rasha Abushaban Student, University of Birmingham

    Bernadette Lamoudi Teacher, Leicester

    Hala Raed Student, Manchester

    Nour Zaher Tamnous Student, Gaza

    Muhammad Y Sammour Gaza

    Mohammed Yousef Abdelnabi Gaza

    Rami Yasir Student, Warwick University

    Y Anis Student, London

    Mohamed M Sakr Student, Manchester

    Waleed Javaid Marketing professional, Huddersfield

    Mohannad Ammori Surgeon, Manchester

    Rawan Yaghi Oxford University

    Nagham Shaker Manchester

    Neda’a Mohammed Salha Student, Gaza

    Islam Hamdi Alsayyed Student, Gaza

    Layth Qutayri Student, Manchester

    Zina Abdullatif Careworker, London

Letters: A group of Palestinians say that the British band should respect calls for a cultural boycott of Israel

@PSCupdates: Come on @Radiohead. Palestinians are asking you not to play in Israel. They say it is a ‘slap in the face’

We are Palestinians in both the UK and in Palestine. We are either refugees forced into exile or people under a ruthless Israeli military occupation and system of apartheid. And, in some cases, we live as both.

Radiohead’s decision to play in Israel (Report, 15 July) is a slap in the face to Palestinians across the world. It is a betrayal of all social justice movements that seek international solidarity when confronted with decades of violent racism, oppression and continued erasure. We ask Radiohead to take a moment and think what it is like to live in Gaza, where even a child as young as eight has had to endure three brutal Israeli bombing campaigns. Think what it must be like to live in perpetual exile in refugee camps sometimes only a few kilometres from home and yet be forbidden from returning.

Radiohead talk about crossing borders while we live under an intricate system of apartheid that forbids us from travelling on certain roads, living in certain places and even accessing fundamental resources such as water.

In response to the boycott movement’s calls, lead singer Thom Yorke stated: “Music, art and academia are about crossing borders, not building them.” And yet the only people creating borders in Palestine are Israel and its allies. Millions of us are imprisoned behind walls and barriers, and if we want to cross we have to beg our occupiers for permission, which is often denied to us. Every day Palestinians in Gaza are dying because they cannot leave the outdoor prison that Israel has created and access life-saving medical care. Every day, Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, harassed, turned away and sometimes even shot. We know borders very well, Radiohead.

Radiohead’s excuses echo the ones used by artists in the 1980s who took money and crossed the anti-apartheid boycott picket line to perform for whites in South Africa. Based on their responses to the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, we wonder if Radiohead, too, would have performed in Sun City while Nelson Mandela and others rotted in Robben Island prison. Hundreds of South African organisations and trade unions support BDS, recognising in Israel a system of oppression they know all too well. Indeed many South Africans who have visited Palestine concluded that the situation is “worse” than apartheid. Among them is Desmond Tutu, who avidly endorses the cultural boycott. Radiohead have accused us and our supporters of throwing around the word “apartheid” as if we don’t know the reality that we are living every day. Do Radiohead also think South Africans do not recognise apartheid?

When our supporters tried to bring to Radiohead’s attention our call for justice and equality, Yorke called them “fucking people” and stuck his middle finger up at them. These people were not just allies of Palestinians who have fought tirelessly for our freedom, they were also Radiohead fans. Fans who have seen Radiohead engage with politics and various causes for social justice around the world over the decades. Fans who have seen Radiohead promote the work of Naomi Klein. Yet Klein understands that the global social justice movements around the world and the movement for Palestinian freedom cannot be separated. This is why she endorses the cultural boycott of Israel.

Another retort to BDS by Yorke, was that it was offensive to band member Jonny Greenwood, who is married to an Israeli. In 2015 Greenwood played in East Jerusalem. The annexation of East Jerusalem is recognised under international law as illegal and is accepted as such by even Israel’s staunchest allies. Yet Greenwood went ahead. This is what is offensive.

Radiohead will be performing for an audience that will be mostly Israelis who have served in the Israeli armed forces that are slaughtering our people: 1,400 Palestinians in 22 days in the winter of 2008-09, then more than 2,200 in 50 days in 2014, including over 500 children.

We are the abused, the imprisoned, and the occupied and we expect people of integrity to show solidarity and not patronise us. We will not stop fighting for justice and we will remember those who stood with us when it was not fashionable to do so.

Khalil Al-Batsh Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel, Gaza

Malaka Mohammed PhD student, Exeter University

Haidar Eid Academic and writer, Gaza

Ahmed Abbelfattah Quantity surveyor, Manchester

Odai AbbelFattah Project manager, Manchester

Yahya Abu Seido Medical student, London

Yara Hawari PhD student, Exeter University

Ayat Hamadan PhD student, Exeter University

Radiohead should not perform in Israel