Michael Stipe Backs Radiohead Over Israel Concert

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July 17, 2017 | 7:25am EST

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe has backed Radiohead over their decision to play a concert in Israel.
Ex-Pink Floyd rocker Roger Waters, fellow musician Brian Eno and filmmaker Ken Loach have called on the British rock band to cancel their gig in Tel Aviv on Wednesday in protest at the Israeli government’s treatment of citizens of the neighboring occupied Palestinian territories.
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has reacted angrily to their pleas, saying the band have made their own decision and will perform for Israeli fans despite their opposition to the country’s government’s policies.
In a post on Instagram Stipe backed the Karma Police musicians, writing, “I stand with Radiohead and their decision to perform. Let’s hope a dialogue continues, helping to bring the occupation to an end and lead to a peaceful solution. Sincerely, Michael Stipe.”
Stipe’s intervention came after Waters renewed his call for the band to cancel the show in a Facebook Live chat supporting the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement, who want artists to cut cultural ties with Israel, accusing his fellow rocker of “whining”.
“My answer to people who say we should go there and sit around the campfire and sing songs: No, we shouldn’t,” The Comfortably Numb musician said. “We should observe the picket line. Anybody who’s tempted to do that, like our friends in Radiohead, if only they would actually educate themselves.”
Loach also tried to put pressure on Radiohead to cancel the Tel Aviv concert in an article published on the website of British newspaper The Independent.
Yorke responded testily to the article, writing in a statement posted on Twitter, “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.”
The singer also posted an article from The Guardian newspaper on the social media site stating that Loach’s latest movie, I, Daniel Blake has been sold to cinemas in Israel.