Roger Waters Responds to Radioheads Thom Yorke Over BDS Criticism

Pink Floyd guitarist said he made 'every effort' to engage personally with Radiohead before co-writing an open letter urging the band to boycott Israel

On Nov. 5, 2015, music legend Roger Waters poses for a portrait in New York.
Victoria Will/AP

Roger Waters said he personally reached out to Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke requesting that the band cancel its upcoming show in Israel.

Waters — the Pink Floyd guitarist who is a leading proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel — was responding to an interview Yorke gave to Rolling Stone last week. In the interview, Yorke objected to an open letter, co-written by Waters, urging the band to cancel the July show.

The kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one thats black or white, Yorke said. I have a problem with that. Its deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public.

But Waters says that isnt what happened. "I have made every effort to engage with [Yorke] personally, and would still like to have the conversation," he said in a statement to Rolling Stone published on Monday.

Rogers claims he sent three emails to Yorke before publishing the open letter. Waters statement says Yorke responded to the first email, but not the second. Whether he replied to the third is unclear.

Thom Yorke from the band Radiohead performs at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.
Charles Sykes/AP

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, Waters statement read. 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 I didnt 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 his interview, Yorke said Radiohead will perform because: Theres an awful lot of people who dont agree with the BDS movement, including us. I dont agree with the cultural ban at all. He added that Its offensive and I just cant understand why going to play a rock show or going to lecture at a university [is a problem to them].

Waters didnt directly address Yorkes objections in his statement, but wrote that: 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.