Artists Call for Boycott of Eurovision 2019, scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv
April 11, 2019
Image Courtesy: Irish News
A popular song contest has become the centrepiece of political mobilization, raising the fundamental question of moral responsibility in the artistic world. Eurovision 2019 is scheduled to be held in Israel, and Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and network of Palestinian cultural organizations have called for its boycott. Eurovision is a popular song contest that started in 1956 and has been one of the longest running international contests and television programmes. It is hosted by the European Broadcasting Union which has membership beyond Europe.
Every year, the winner’s nation hosts the following year’s contest and Eurovision 2018, hosted by Portugal, was won by Israel’s representative to the contest, Netta Barzilai. The fact that Israel is using this event as a platform for its cultural propaganda is made clear by the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu has called her “the best brand ambassador of Israel”. Using cultural events to whitewash its criminal regime of occupation, apartheid and colonialism of Palestine is a long-established Brand Israel strategy.
As noted in the statement by Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and network of Palestinian cultural
“On May 14 alone, just two days after its Eurovision win, Israel massacred 62 Palestinians in Gaza, including six children. That same evening, Netta Barzilai, Israel’s representative at Eurovision 2018, performed a celebratory concert in Tel Aviv, hosted by the mayor, stating, “We have a reason to be happy.”
Since 2004, Palestinian academics and artists have called for academic and cultural boycott of Israel, its cultural institutions and lobby groups all of which go on to cover up for its crimes. Just as artists boycotted apartheid South Africa, a growing number of artists are refusing to lend their art to Israel’s propaganda. From Roger Waters to Lorde, artists from across the world are increasingly respecting the Palestinian call. In the case of Eurovision, the Palestinian call for its boycott if it is held in Israel is growing every day. Last September, Eurovision finalists, judges, including one former winner wrote an open letter supporting the Palestinian call. Protests have been held in London, Dublin, Copenhagen and other cities.
In January 2019, 50 British cultural figures wrote to BBC, urging it to press for relocating the contest. More than 85 LGBTQIA organizations have called for the boycott of Eurovision and Tel Aviv Pride. Most recently, the winners of the Spanish Goya award for the best short documentary film, Carles Bover Martínez and Julio Pérez del Campo, supported the call for boycott of Eurovision in Israel in their acceptance speech. They won the Goya for their documentary, ‘Gaza’. More recently, Israeli artists came together, urging Eurovision contestants to not play in Israel.
We, as artists, can’t sit silent as our Palestinian counterparts suffer silencing, dehumanization and violence, and we ask you to join us in speaking out. Palestinian artists have urged you to pull out of Eurovision, and we join their call, for their sake and for our own futures.
Due to the campaign’s pressure, already in June 2018, Israel dropped its condition to host Eurovision 2019 in Jerusalem and relocated it to Tel Aviv. With the stakes getting higher, pop star Madonna has been signed up for 1 million dollars to perform at the contest.
With mounting pressure, it has become more than evident that artists are respecting the Palestinian picket line and many are actively campaigning for the Palestinian call. We have to look no further to see that art is political, and can not be allowed to be appropriated.
Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and Jewish Voice for Peace have started a campaign asking Madonna to not play for apartheid: https://secure.everyaction.com/jM61x80gbEmy5xZGhRGGcg2
Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.