140 artists boycott 2019 Eurovision contest in Israel

28th Sep 2018

Aqila Mumthaz

Around 140 artists from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland Israel, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spanish state, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US, have called for a boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, which is to be hosted in Israel next year; following the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to end the “whitewashing” of Israel’s military occupation and apartheid through art.

On September 7, the Guardian published a letter signed by 140 musicians, writers, actors, directors, novelists, and poets calling for a boycott of the Eurovision song contest.

“We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel.

Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights.”

Among those who signed the letter were 6 Israeli artists Aviad Albert, Michal Sapir, Ohal Grietzer, Yonatan Shapira, Danielle Ravitzki and David Opp , and 15 UK artists, Wolf Alice, Carmen Callil, Julie Christie, Caryl Churchill, Brian Eno, AL Kennedy, Peter Kosminsky, Paul Laverty, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Alexei Sayle, Roger Waters, Penny Woolcock, Leon Rosselson, and Sabrina Mahfouz.

Israel won the right to host the 2019 contest after Israeli contestant Netta Barzilai won the 63rd edition of Eurovision on May 12.

Soon after, the Israeli army killed 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including six children, and thousands injured, on May 14 along the Gaza-Israel fence.

The Palestinians, who gathered on the Gaza strip’s eastern border, protested the mark of the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel, which many Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, Arabic for ‘Catastrophe’ and protested the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, they were attacked by the Israeli army who killed most with live ammunition.

“Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy and Human Rights Watch described the killings as unlawful and calculated,” the letter further added.

The Israeli Government argued, that the border protests constituted a “state of war” in which international humanitarian law does not apply, when they faced international criticism over targeted killings during the protests.

The letter concluded stating, “Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights. We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a “non-divisive” location for the 2019 Eurovision.

It should cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record. Injustice divides, while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites.”
Days before the calls for a boycott of Eurovision 2019 the BDS campaign successfully pressured 15 artists, including

Lana Del Rey Shlohmo, Little Simz, and others, to cancel their performance in Israel’s Meteor festival. BDS has frequently called on artists to cancel their events in Israel due to the army’s inhumane military action towards innocent Palestinian civilians.

Major artists such as Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, and Shakira have cancelled performances, in response.

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