On Wednesday evening, Radiohead held a concert in Israel.
They did so against major pressure from the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS). BDS wants Israel to give up unilateral concessions to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza and the West Bank. And towards that end, it seeks a complete boycott of Israel and Israeli goods.
It's a sick and racist movement.
Radiohead, a British rock band, have thus set a great example for other artists. It's important, because the BDS movement is increasingly confident and aggressive in cutting Israel off from social, cultural, and intellectual opportunities.
Be under no illusions, the measure of support that BDS finds, especially in Europe, is significant. It is the go-to cause of the western celebrity left.
Take Ken Loach. A famous British director and avowed socialist, Loach recently wrote to Radiohead demanding that they cancel their trip to Israel. Amusingly, Radiohead totally ignored him.
Loach explained that Radiohead was wrong not to meet with him. "This is deeply disappointing. I don't know who is advising Radiohead, but their stubborn refusal to engage with the many critics of their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side — the one that supports apartheid."
I take great satisfaction in Loach's evident aggravation.
Still, Loach wasn't done. He warned Radiohead that visiting Israel would be an inexcusable crime against the Palestinian people: "It should be about them [the Palestinians] and their human rights, not about us and our sense of pride."
Note, here, the utter lack of concern for Israeli human rights. The people of Israel, after all, are part of a democracy that finds representation in many different political parties. Many Israelis oppose their nation's policy towards the Palestinians, and many support it. Regardless, they are not a homogenous bloc who deserve to be punished. Incidentally, it is quite striking that the BDS movement has such a pathological hatred for Israel's cosmopolitan, diverse, LGBT-tolerant society, and such adoration for the "gay throwing" government in Gaza.
It's not surprising, however, because the BDS are the heirs to the 1960s and 1970s Palestinian socialist terrorists that waged war on Israel's civilian population.
Regardless, Radiohead's choice is now its challenge. Having put human happiness and opportunity before warped political activism, the band have attracted the ire of BDS sympathizers. They are now public enemy number one. BDS warned as much.
As Loach wrote in his letter, "If they go to Tel Aviv, they may never live it down."
All of us who support democracy should now defend the example Radiohead have set.