Radiohead front man Thom Yorke has apparently stuck up his middle finger up at fans waving Palestinian flags in protest at the band’s decision to play in Israel later this month.
The singer’s gesture was captured on video during a performance in Glasgow, Scotland at the weekend.
Prior to the song “Myxomatosis,” the musician repeatedly said “some fucking people” in an apparent swipe at the protesters.
Struan Mearns from Glasgow Palestine Action, who took part in the demo said:
“As a lifelong fan of Radiohead and supporter of the Palestinian struggle for justice, it broke my heart when the band decided to play in Israel. When Thom Yorke swore at us I was shocked but given that they’re willing to break the cultural boycott and help the state of Israel whitewash its crimes, that kind of arrogant attitude is actually not that surprising.”
Other disappointed fans responded to Yorke’s comments at Glasgow’s TRNSMT festival, where Radiohead topped the bill, with memes. One read: “Some fucking people had their homes razed to the ground and you’re going to play on the rubble.”
Since announcing the planned Israel gig, the band have ignored many direct appeals from Palestinian fans to reconsider, including those which drew attention to their prior reputation as politically conscious.
Lead singer Thom Yorke has been outspoken on climate change and a range of other issues, most recently mocking UK Prime Minister Theresa May on stage at Glastonbury, a major English festival. Previously he has displayed a Tibetan flag onstage.
But when it comes to Palestinian rights, the band have rebuffed a call to boycott made by 14,000 who signed a petition handed in to the band’s record label in London.
Similarly, they have rejected attempts to reach out by artists like Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and filmmaker Ken Loach, who has previously said: “Thom’s is a simple choice: will he stand with the oppressor or the oppressed?”
Yorke’s reaction suggests he has sided with apartheid Israel.
Prior to the apparent insult to fans in Glasgow, he had already chastised his critics in an interview with music magazine Rolling Stone, calling the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement “a waste of energy” and “divisive.”
In June, Yorke complained: “It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public. It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves.”
Artists for Palestine UK responded with a statement pointing out that Radiohead’s decision to play in Israel – and the government’s apartheid policies - are “divisive.”
The band’s recent gigs — from Manchester to Glastonbury — have attracted protests. Last week Ken Loach suggested that if the band go ahead with their Tel Aviv concert “they may never live it down.”
Fans in Glasgow spoofed the band’s song “Let Down” — from the album OK Computer — to express their dismay at Radiohead’s plan to break the international picket line and Thom Yorke’s aggressive response to criticism.