Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood faces backlash for Israel show

Jonny Greenwood performed in Tel Aviv on the night of a massacre in Rafah [Getty]

Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has responded to criticism from Palestinian artists after performing in Tel Aviv alongside Israeli artist Dudu Tassa on May 26.

Greenwood dismissed the backlash against him as “unprogressive” and “silencing”. He played the live show after taking part in Israeli protests calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and new elections in Israel.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) however, accused Greenwood of “artwashing genocide”, in a statement released on 30 May.

“Performing in apartheid Israel – while it burns Palestinian refugees alive a short drive away in Gaza – is profoundly immoral and covers up genocide.”

On the night of Greenwood’s performance, Israel bombed an encampment for displaced people in Rafah, setting tents ablaze and burning men, women, and children alive. At least 45 people were killed.

The statement contrasted Jonny Greenwood’s performance in Tel Aviv with the willingness of “tens of thousands of artists” to boycott Israel over its mass killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s indiscriminate war on Gaza has devastated the territory and killed over at least 36,586 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

PACBI referred to Greenwood’s band Radiohead’s performance in Tel Aviv in 2017 calling the group “perhaps the most notorious of the artists to have defied Palestinian calls” and accused the Oxford-formed band of performing “on the ruins of Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed within living memory”.

“Palestinians unequivocally condemn Jonny Greenwood’s shameful art-washing of Israel’s genocide. We call for peaceful, creative pressure on his band Radiohead to convincingly distance itself from this blatant complicity in the crime of crimes, or face grassroots measures,” the statement said.

Greenwood defended his performance, however, saying that the artistic project he was taking part in “combines Arab and Jewish musicians”.

He issued a statement on Tuesday condemning “the silencing of this – or any – artistic effort made by Israeli Jews” by “those who are trying to shut us down, or who are now attempting to ascribe a sinister ulterior motivation to the band’s existence”.

Greenwood is married to Israeli visual artist Sharona Katan whose nephew was reportedly killed while serving with the Israeli army, The Guardian reported.

Katan has used her Twitter account to amplify unproven Israeli accusations against the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, reposting a tweet accusing the agency of being “accomplices in Hamas’ terrorism”.

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