Standing Up Against Cancel Culture: Jonny Greenwood’s Defense of Artistic Collaboration in Israel

In a world increasingly divided over geopolitical conflicts, artists often find themselves in the crossfire of public opinion. Recently, Jonny Greenwood, guitarist of the iconic band Radiohead, has become a focal point in this ongoing debate. Greenwood's collaboration with Israeli musician Dudu Tassa has sparked significant backlash from pro-Palestine activists, who accuse him of "artwashing genocide" amid the Gaza war. Despite the criticism, Greenwood remains steadfast in his commitment to artistic expression and dialogue.

The controversy began when Greenwood and Israeli artist Dudu Tassa performed a live show in Tel Aviv on May 26th. This performance came shortly after Greenwood participated in protests advocating for the release of hostages in Gaza and calling for new elections in Israel. The pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement quickly condemned Greenwood, issuing a statement that accused him of complicity in what they termed "Israel’s genocide."

In response to the accusations, Greenwood took to social media to defend his actions and his artistic partnership with Tassa. He described the backlash as "unprogressive" and an attempt to "silence" artistic efforts. Greenwood emphasized that while art cannot overshadow the importance of addressing suffering and conflict, silencing artists based on their nationality or ethnicity is not a path to understanding or peace.

“No art is as ‘important’ as stopping all the death and suffering around us,” Greenwood stated. “But doing nothing seems like a worse option. And silencing Israeli artists for being born Jewish in Israel doesn’t seem like any way to reach an understanding between the two sides of this apparently endless conflict.”

Greenwood’s connection to Israel is not new. He is married to Israeli visual artist Sharona Katan, whose nephew recently died serving in the Israeli Defence Force. Radiohead itself has a long and contentious history with the country. The band's early hit "Creep" found its initial success on Israeli radio, and despite ongoing protests from fans and activists, Radiohead has continued to perform in Israel throughout their career.

Greenwood's collaboration with Tassa, exemplified by their album "Jarak Qaribak," is a testament to the power of music as a bridge between cultures. The album, which features reworkings of Arabic love songs with artists from across the Middle East, showcases a shared cultural heritage that transcends political boundaries. By standing firm against the woke mob and the pressures of cancel culture, Greenwood is advocating for the potential for art to foster understanding and connection in a world often divided by conflict.



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