More than 11,200 people have signed an online petition calling for the European Broadcasting Union to support the planned Eurovision Song Contest due to be held in Israel in May.
Launched by Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), petitioners said the Eurovision’s “spirit of togetherness is under attack by those calling to boycott Eurovision 2019 because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division”.
Following last year’s win for Israeli entry Netta Barzilai, the annual competition will now be held at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Ground between 14-18 May, the first time that Israel has hosted Eurovision for 20 years.
CCFP’s Eurovision statement says signatories think music “transcends boundaries and brings people together under a common bond”, and that “singing competitions, are crucial to help bridge our cultural divides. The statement adds, that those urging boycotts due to it being held in Israel are “subverting the spirit” of Eurovision.
“While we all may have differing opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the best path to peace, we all agree that a cultural boycott is not the answer.” You can view the petition by clicking here.
But Palestinian activists have begun calling on artists, fans and broadcasters to boycott the competition because of Israeli policies, accusing Israel of “art-washing” (whitewashing alleged crimes through the arts).
Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said Israel was “dying to have such a mega-cultural event” but Barzilai said Eurovision was “a European contest, it’s not Israel, it’s a worldwide thing”.
Public figures from the world of arts and entertainment have called for the BBC to “press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed,” but so far no countries have pulled out.
The threat of countries boycotting the competition last year led Israeli officials to change the host city from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, and this week Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “We will open our doors to all, as long as those people do not come here as enemies.”