Arab-Israeli singer Nasreen Qadri on Tuesday blasted supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement for urging Radiohead to cancel its concert in Tel Aviv, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
Dozens of artists, including notorious anti-Israel activist Roger Waters, sent a letter to Radiohead urging the band to cancel its Tel Aviv concert in order to “pressure Israel to end its violation of basic rights and international law.”
Thom Yorke, the band’s frontman, later fired back at the boycott calls, calling them “an extraordinary waste of energy”.
Qadri, who will share the stage with Radiohead at Wednesday’s concert, wrote in an op-ed for Newsweek on Tuesday that calls for the band to boycott Israel are “counter-productive and only hurting those who wish to promote peace and tolerance in a troubled region.”
“This approach is hurting me. I am a Muslim Arab woman. I am a singer. And this Wednesday, I will share the stage with Radiohead in their concert,” she added.
“I was born in Haifa and grew up in Lod—two cities with a mix of Arab and Jewish communities, living side by side. It wasn’t always easy, but my personal experience has taught me that open dialogue is the only way to overcome our differences. Ever since I won a singing competition on Israeli TV, my music and my story have inspired many in Israel to open their minds and hearts to Arabic music and my people's culture,” continued Qadri.
“I have dedicated my life to music, and dedicated my music to breaking down borders and bringing people closer together. That is why this past year I did what no other Arab-Israeli has done before, and sang in Israel's official Independence and Memorial Day ceremonies.”
Noting that Yorke had pointed out that “playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing its government," Qadri added, “I believe that it has everything to do with endorsing its people, and using music to engage with them. After all, if we don’t engage one another, and work together, we will never find peace between us.”
“This Wednesday, I will also perform alongside one of Israel's most talented artists, Dudu Tassa—a Jewish singer—to bring a message of co-existence to every corner of the country. The two of us were fortunate enough to be invited by Thom Yorke to tour with Radiohead across the U.S. earlier this year,” she wrote.
“I must admit, I had never heard of Radiohead before receiving Yorke’s invitation, but that tour changed my life and was one of the peaks of my career. A peak I am looking forward to ascending again this week when I share the stage with Radiohead in front of a sold out crowd in Tel Aviv.”
“An Arabic proverb says ‘music is the nutrition of the spirit.’ Music feeds people’s spirits and opens them up. Music builds bridges and this is exactly what I am hoping to achieve through this concert,” she stressed.
“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. Sadly, there are too many countries in the Middle East in which such a concert could have never taken place,” wrote Qadri, who added, “I was lucky to be born in Israel, and I am grateful for the opportunity to build bridges of understanding.”
Radiohead is one of many artists that have in recent years been targeted by BDS activists and pressured to cancel shows in Israel.