Should Radiohead Really Play In Malaysia? Definitely, But Not Right Now…
Back in 2013, Nurul Izzah promised to bring Radiohead to Malaysia if Pakatan Rakyat took over Putrajaya and since PH won in the 14th General Election, people have dug up her promise and she responded by saying, “Indeed. A promise is a promise…”
Most of the people I know, including myself, love Radiohead – if not for their progressive and unique music then for being politically outspoken. Musicians should have that freedom, they should be able to play music and speak about the bs that’s happening around the world. Freedom of speech is a universal right for everyone, from roadie to rockstar.
I could die happy seeing Thom Yorke and co. playing ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’ or ‘Paranoid Android’ live (yes, In Rainbows is one of their best albums, fite me!) but after recent events in the Israel-Palestinian conflict unfolded, I don’t feel like I want to see Radiohead, yet.
Since Trump took over America as their white supremacist, money-oriented orange President, a lot of shit has happened. I know that some of you guys are either tired of American politics or that you don’t give a shit, which is fair. Besides, we need to focus on what’s happening on our soil since the formation of the new government but once in a while, I think it’s okay to know what’s happening in America.
If you haven’t caught up yet with what’s happening in the Middle East and the mess Trump made again, it’s ridiculous as always. Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which is subjected to a territorial dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians. While several hundred people gathered in Jerusalem for the opening ceremony of the embassy, at the same time, 60 miles away, Gaza suffered its deadliest day in years as Israeli soldiers opened fire, killing and injuring Palestinian protesters.
This is nothing new, of course, but it’s still something that depresses me every time I read the news and why I feel like Radiohead shouldn’t come here is because the gang has been silent and neutral about their position in the conversation.
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement began in 2005 and many artistes from Elvis Costello to Gorillaz have joined the cultural boycott on Israel and cancelled their planned concerts but many have ignored them too and Radiohead stand their ground. In response to an open letter on the issue by English television and film director Ken Loach, Thom Yorke said: “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing it government. We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others… We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America…”
— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) July 11, 2017
While there’s truth to that–Yorke called Trump a “f*cking clown” over pulling out from the Paris Agreement–but you can’t deny the horrors Palestinians suffer every day and with the power of influence Radiohead has, it could put pressure on Israel’s government.
Last April in 2017, Radiohead’s Israel performance (which was also their longest gig in 10 years) was protested by Thurston Moore, Roger Waters (Radiohead’s long-time friend and producer Nigel Goldrich produced Waters’ latest album), Desmond Tutu and more, with an open letter signed by them saying that they should think again about playing there. In the letter, they write, “…by playing in Israel, you’ll be playing in a state where, UN rapporteurs say, ‘a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people,'” and closed by saying, “Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over.”
Thom Yorke has already said what he felt about the open letter, which to me sounded a lot like a complaint. I love Radiohead, they have impacted my life in many ways especially in being critical of the powers-that-be but if you can write a song about pollution, then you can surely say something about this war. They’re too smart to be this arrogant.
You might think this is petty and say that “this might be the only chance we get to see Radiohead!” but I could care less. Until Radiohead chooses a side, I’d rather they stay away from us. I wouldn’t want to see one of my favourite bands on stage, knowing that they support Israel’s terror. Much like how citizens vote out corrupt governments, as fans, we too have the power to boycott artistes.
The war on Palestine has been ongoing since 1948. Israel captured the land in the Six-Day War of 1967 and has occupied it ever since.
Israel has violated at least five categories of international human rights law and humanitarian law.
Whether you think Radiohead should come here or not, is up to you, but to me, they need to pick a side even though from Yorke’s interview with Rolling Stone, it seems they have picked the side of not picking sides.
To quote the band, “neutrality only gives power to the oppressors, not the oppressed.”
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