British rockers Radiohead have performed their much-anticipated controversial gig in Israel, after calls from protesters to cancel the show.
The sell-out concert went ahead as planned at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, despite urges from activists and campaigners who have said that the show is an insult to Palestinian people facing oppression in the country.
Jewish News newspaper editor, Richard Ferrer, said the audience of thousands demonstrated a “melting pot” of fans.
He tweeted a picture of the stage and quoted front man Thom Yorke telling the crowd: “A lot was said about this, but in the end we played some music.”
According to reports, Radiohead played a 27-song set and two encores, including hits such as No Surprises, Creep and Karma Police.
— Richard Ferrer (@richferrer) July 19, 2017
It comes a week after Yorke defended the band’s decision to play in the politically torn Middle Eastern country, following criticism by award-winning British filmmaker, Ken Loach.
Loach wrote to the singer on Twitter that “Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or the oppressor. The choice is simple.”
Yorke responded in a statement: “Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government.”
Explaining that the band have played in both Israel and the USA for the last two decades, he added: “We don’t endorse (Israeli prime minister Benjamin) Netanyahu any more than Trump.”
He also tweeted an article by the show’s support musician, female Arab artist Nasreen Qadri, who wrote in US publication Newsweek: “Those who call for boycott are only trying to divide us.
“They are trying to shut down the music. I will not be a part of that.”
The Tel Aviv show marked a close to Radiohead’s three-month global tour.
Last month they headlined the first night of music at Glastonbury Festival, in front of an audience peppered with protesters.
While some waved Palestinian flags, one banner read: “Israel is an apartheid state.Radiohead, don’t play there.”