High-profile figures from the arts world, including Ken Loach to Roger Waters, have called on Radiohead to cancel an upcoming gig in Israel as part of a cultural boycott.
An open letter also signed by the South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and the actors Maxine Peake, Ricky Tomlinson, Miriam Margolyes and Juliet Stephenson asks the band to reconsider performing in a country “where a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people”.
Also among the 47 signatories are the Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky, the Scottish Mercury prize-winning band Young Fathers, and the comedian Alexei Sayle. The letter was organised by Artists For Palestine UK and follows previous requests by Palestinian activists for Radiohead to pull out of the 19 July concert.
“In asking you not to perform in Israel, Palestinians have appealed to you to take one small step to help pressure Israel to end its violation of basic rights and international law,” the letter reads.
It cites Radiohead’s support of Tibet’s fight for independence as an example of the band’s double standards. “Since Radiohead campaigns for freedom for the Tibetans, we’re wondering why you’d turn down a request to stand up for another people under foreign occupation.”
The letter adds: “Surely if making a stand against the politics of division, of discrimination and of hate means anything at all, it means standing against it everywhere – and that has to include what happens to Palestinians every day.”
In a separate comment on the issue, Loach said the band should cancel the gig “for their own self respect”.
Kosminsky said the situation for Palestinians was becoming tougher and argued Radiohead should support the campaigners’ call for a cultural boycott just as musicians had done in South Africa during the apartheid era.
“I think we should assume they know what’s in their best interests and respect their wish, irrespective of other considerations,” he said.
The Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is married to an Israeli artist, Sharona Katan, and he recently released an album with an Israeli singer, Shye Ben Tzur.
In 2015, 700 artists including Brian Eno, Richard Ashcroft, Riz Ahmed, Margolyes and Loach signed an open letter pledging a cultural boycott of Israel until the country’s “colonial oppression of Palestinians” ended.
More recently, 7,000 people signed a petition asking Chemical Brothers to comply with the boycott and not to play a gig in Tel Aviv.
A spokesperson for Radiohead said the band had no comment.