We are Palestinians in both the UK and in Palestine. We are either refugees forced into exile or people under a ruthless Israeli military occupation and system of apartheid. And, in some cases, we live as both.
Radiohead’s decision to play in Israel (Report, 15 July) is a slap in the face to Palestinians across the world. It is a betrayal of all social justice movements that seek international solidarity when confronted with decades of violent racism, oppression and continued erasure. We ask Radiohead to take a moment and think what it is like to live in Gaza, where even a child as young as eight has had to endure three brutal Israeli bombing campaigns. Think what it must be like to live in perpetual exile in refugee camps sometimes only a few kilometres from home and yet be forbidden from returning.
Radiohead talk about crossing borders while we live under an intricate system of apartheid that forbids us from travelling on certain roads, living in certain places and even accessing fundamental resources such as water.
In response to the boycott movement’s calls, lead singer Thom Yorke stated: “Music, art and academia are about crossing borders, not building them.” And yet the only people creating borders in Palestine are Israel and its allies. Millions of us are imprisoned behind walls and barriers, and if we want to cross we have to beg our occupiers for permission, which is often denied to us. Every day Palestinians in Gaza are dying because they cannot leave the outdoor prison that Israel has created and access life-saving medical care. Every day, Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, harassed, turned away and sometimes even shot. We know borders very well, Radiohead.
Radiohead’s excuses echo the ones used by artists in the 1980s who took money and crossed the anti-apartheid boycott picket line to perform for whites in South Africa. Based on their responses to the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, we wonder if Radiohead, too, would have…