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Rights activists renew calls to ban Radiohead concert in Israel.

Alicia Buller Thom Yorke, left, and Ken Loach. LONDON: The UK rock band Radiohead is facing renewed criticism from human rights groups and activists over its decision to proceed with an upcoming performance in Tel Aviv. British film director Ken Loach railed against the band's planned Israel concert in a comment piece in the UK's Independent newspaper on Wednesday. "(Radiohead's) stubborn refusal to engage with the many critics of their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side - the one that supports apartheid," he wrote. "Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or with the oppressor." After tweeting the link to Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, the singer replied with a statement: "Playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing the 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. "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 is one of those supporting a cultural boycott of Israel over its actions in Palestine through an organization called Artists for Palestine. Artists for Palestine said in an open letter published on Wednesday: "Thom Yorke makes a statement justifying Radiohead's forthcoming appearance in Israel - and once again fails to make any mention of the Palestinians who suffer under Israel's regime." "Yorke's invocation of a cliche about art and music 'crossing borders' rings hollow. Radiohead can cross borders with ease - but no Palestinian can. Palestinian artists and academics can't cross military checkpoints and the apartheid wall." Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told Arab News that Yorke does not seem to grasp that the call for sanctions, issued by Palestinian civil society in 2005, was not in opposition to Netanyahu's government specifically. He said: "It was a response to apartheid - a system and structure of discrimination that has denied Palestinian human rights since Israel's inception. Apartheid exists when the state becomes the guardian of the system of racism." Jamal said that Radiohead has consistently ignored the fact that Palestinian civil society and musicians have respectfully asked Radiohead not to cross the picket line.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Jul 14, 2017
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