Wednesday, May 12th | 2 Sivan 5781

June 13, 2017 11:09 am

Radiohead: My New Favorite Band

avatar by Jacob L. Freedman


A July 2012 Radiohead concert. Photo: Kudumomo via Wikimedia Commons.

I have to admit that I haven’t spent much time thinking about the band Radiohead in recent years.

In fact, the last time I thought of them was when a young man with a long psychiatric history came to my ER with paranoid delusions. He told us about a government plot to implant recording devices inside of people’s brains. After evaluating him with my medical student, she tried to make an inappropriate joke, and called him a “Radiohead.”

Today, however, Radiohead is my new favorite band.  Not because I particularly like their music, but because they’ve taken a public stand against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Back in April — coincidentally around the time of Passover, our national holiday of freedom — Radiohead began to receive significant criticism about its plans to play a show in Israel this summer. The attack, led by the BDS’ supervillian — Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters — urged Radiohead to cancel their show. Those proposing a boycott sent a letter to Radiohead, which was also signed by proud antisemites Alice Walker (who has noted that “Jews learned how to rape, murder, steal, and occupy from their Torah”) and Desmond Tutu (who popularized the terms “Zionist Apartheid” and “the Jewish Monopoly of The Holocaust”).

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Rather than capitulate to the biased and absurd pressures of these “peace experts” — who simultaneously whitewash Arab terrorism both in Israel and abroad — Radiohead fought back.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Radiohead’s vocalist/front man Thom Yorke spoke out again the “extremely upsetting” and “deeply distressing” efforts of BDS activists. As opposed to promoting dialogue, he said, the BDS movement seeks to silence discussion and promote a one-sided narrative.

Yorke himself had been personally singled out for his plans to speak at a college during the Israel trip and responded, “Really? You can’t go talk to other people who want to learn stuff in another country? Really? The one place where you need to be free to express everything you possibly can. You want to tell these people you can’t do that? And you think that’s gonna help?”

The problem with the delusional BDS agenda is that it is a totalitarian ideology — one that seeks to squash any intellectual dissidence. As Yorke said, “The kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one that’s black or white. I have a problem with that.”

Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood has been especially offended by the BDS movement’s absurd and hateful actions, and the threats he’s received. Greenwood’s wife, Sharona Katan, is a proud Israeli woman of Sephardic/Mizrachi heritage. One might ask where are the human rights activists when it comes to fighting on behalf of the close-to-a-million Jews who have been forcefully expelled from their homes in Muslim countries since 1948?

On the topic of Mrs. Katan — whose family was originally from Egypt and Iraq — one might ask how many of the 75,000 Jews who fled Egypt in the past century or the 135,000 who fled Iraq have called for Radiohead to boycott, divest from, or sanction those two countries?

Roger Waters admitted that he failed to convert Radiohead to his vitriolic anti-Israel positions, noting: “They have to make up their own minds about what they decide to do with their lives.” Of course, he still took the time to publicly bash them by stating, “I’m not going to sit here and badmouth them or harangue them … if people choose [not to participate in BDS], that is entirely a matter for them and their own consciences.”

Luckily, Thom Yorke is a man of great common sense and conscience. He summarized his thoughts on the BDS movement as follows: “It’s such an extraordinary waste of energy. Energy that could be used in a more positive way.” And he’s right. As fellow British rocker Alan Parsons once said: “Music knows no borders, and neither do I.”

So while I don’t know too much about Radiohead, I do know that I like Thom Yorke for speaking out on behalf of freedom, and for taking on the bigotry and anti-Israel zealotry of the BDS movement. And as a result, you just might see me at the concert on July 17th in Tel Aviv. I’ll be the guy with the big beard, waving a big Israeli flag.

Jacob L. Freedman, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Tufts University School of Medicine and the medical director of the English-speaking program at Bayit Cham in Jerusalem. Dr. Freedman is always excited to work with new businesses and is proud to serve in both leadership and advisory roles with healthcare and technology companies. He can be most easily reached through his website at:

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