Michael Stipe is wrong.

I love Michael Stipe, but I disagree with Michael Stipe.

Whatever one thinks of Radiohead’s decision to perform in Israel, this notion that "dialogue" can lead to an end to the Israeli occupation is silly.

Israel's 50-year military occupation of Palestinian territories is a decision and a choice.

It has been a consistent choice across both supposedly liberal and conservative Israeli governments. The choice of violent occupation and land theft ("settlements") has to be resisted, just as George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq had to be resisted, and just as Donald Trump's policies have to be resisted.

Power respects power. Governments listen when people build the power to resist. This is true across history.


The British rulers respected the power of Indian resistance once it became clear that they had no choice. Yes, Indian resistance leaders met with their British colonizers. But those were negotiations in the context of massive civil disobedience. Mahatma Gandhi did not simply say, "Perhaps I should invite my British overlords over for chai and encourage them to rethink colonialism." Indians resisted.

Jim Crow America:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. certainly engaged in conversation with white politicians, but not simply to talk his way out of segregation. Those conversations were negotiations as well, combined with a campaign to build disruptive power in communities and on the streets.

South Africa:

The white supremacists of South Africa did not completely hand over power to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress after being asked nicely. They did so because people inside South Africa resisted and people around the world cut the South African government off.


The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (#BDS) is the first major challenge to Israel's never-ending military occupation. Even the Netanyahu government itself has basically acknowledged this.

When someone is violating someone else's rights, you don't ask for a polite "dialogue" while the rights violations continue. You use your own power to stop those human rights violations, whether we are talking about military occupation, sexual violence, discrimination against LGBT communities, state racism ... the list goes on and on.

  • It was true in India.
  • It was true in South Africa.
  • It was true in Jim Crow America.

And it is true of Israel today.