For the past few months, many in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement tried to pressure the legendary British rock band Radiohead to cancel their planned concert in Israel. That never happened. The Times of Israel's Judah Ari Gross reports that the band resisted the pressure and played for thousands in Tel Aviv last night:
Forty-seven thousand creeps and weirdos flocked to Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park to hear Radiohead play in the Jewish state for the first time in 17 years on Wednesday night, despite the hot, muggy weather and in appreciation of the band’s robust defiance of calls by boycott-Israel activists that it cancel the show.
Those tens of thousands of fans, plus the hordes who saved the ticket price and listened to the concert on the grass beyond the gates, were treated to the longest Radiohead concert in 11 years, according to a Reddit tally.
Toward what seemed like the end of the show, lead singer Thom Yorke, who’d been relatively quiet all night, told the fans: “We ain’t done yet. We came all the way here. We’re gonna play our fingers off.”
Other than perfunctory “Thank yous” and a bit of Israeli slang, “yalla” (come on), which drew whoops of approval from the crowd, Yorke’s only other brief on-stage comments during the show had to do with some of the controversy surrounding the Tel Aviv performance.
In the months leading up to the show, a group of activists who support cultural boycotts of Israel called for Radiohead to cancel the concert, as they routinely urge all visiting artists, over Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinians. Unlike many artists — a minority of whom cancel, and most of whom go ahead with their shows and ignore the critics — Radiohead responded fiercely to the pro-BDS pressure campaign, calling it patronizing and saying that their playing in Israel does not signify approval of the government’s policies.
Yorke didn’t go into the details of the argument, but merely told the crowd quietly, “A lot of stuff was said about this. But in the end, we played some music...”