Roger Waters Responds To Thom Yorke’s Defense Of Radiohead’s Israel Concert

Last week, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke responded to criticism about the band’s decision to play a concert in Israel next month. The criticism was levied in an open letter released back in April whose signees included the likes of Thurston Moore, Tunde Adebimpe, and Roger Waters. That last one is particularly thorny because Radiohead’s longtime producer and quasi-sixth member Nigel Godrich also produced Waters’ forthcoming solo album. “Imagine how this has affected me and Nigel’s relationship,” Yorke asked. “Thanks, Roger. I mean, [Godrich and I are] best mates for life, but it’s like, fuck me, really?” He also questioned why Waters didn’t talk to him before going public: “All of this creates divisive energy. You’re not bringing people together. You’re not encouraging dialogue or a sense of understanding.”

Now, Waters has responded in a statement shared with Rolling Stone detailing the two musician’s conversations after the last couple of months about the situation. Read the 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.

“Hey Thom,

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?
Love, R.”

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.

Restiamo umani.

Love,

Roger Waters

Radiohead’s concert is still scheduled to proceed in Tel Aviv on 7/19.