Eurovision bosses double down to defend decision not to boycott Israel over Gaza war

Eurovision bosses double down to defend decision not to boycott Israel over Gaza war

Eurovision organisers have defended their decision not to boycott Israel over the war in Gaza.

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It comes ahead of the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden this Saturday (May 11).

There have been several calls to boycott the competition from various countries. Over 1,000 Swedish artists called for Israel to be banned this year, such as RobynFever Ray, and First Aid Kit, whilst over 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals recently signed a petition to ban the country from taking part in the contest as well.

In the buildup to the 2024 edition, individual artists such as Olly Alexander also faced calls to boycott the event. Alexander, the UK’s entry this year, initially signed a statement last December calling Israel an “apartheid state” and accusing it of genocide.

Israel’s entry also proved controversial. Originally titled ‘October Rain’, the song – performed by Eden Golan –  appeared to contain references to the victims of Hamas’ October 7 attacks and was barred from performance due to breaking rules on political neutrality. Israel was finally confirmed to compete after changes were made to the lyrics and the song’s title was changed to ‘Hurricane’.

Sweden’s singer Loreen performs after winning the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2023 on May 14, 2023 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, northern England CREDIT: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Now, organisers have doubled down on their stance saying that to exclude Israeli broadcaster Kan from the competition would have been a “political decision”.

Speaking on Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips on Sky News, Jean Philip De Tender, the deputy director general of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said: “I fully agree it is a family event and the great thing about this music competition is that it’s all about values. It’s about uniting onstage all of these young talents, these participants, and they do great. It’s about diversity and inclusion.

“But there are competition rules and you need to follow the competition rules and take decisions based on these competition rules. If you were to exclude Kan outside of these competition rules, that would have been a political decision, as such, which we cannot take.”

De Tender also added that the EBU, an apolitical member organisation, is “in line” with other international federations including sports bodies who are allowing Israel to participate in events.

It comes after Eurovision organisers also recently confirmed that that they reserve the right to remove Palestinian flags and pro-Palestinian symbols during the contest.

Ticket buyers will only be allowed to display the flags of competing countries – including Israel – and the Pride flag.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations are expected to take place in protest of Israel’s controversial participation in the contest following the current tensions with Hamas that have been ongoing since October. Protesters are expected to gather in downtown Malmö, several miles from the arena where Eurovision will be held.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed and more than 77,000 wounded in Israel’s current military operation, according to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry, reports Sky News.

Around 1,200 Israelis were killed in the October 7 attacks.

The post Eurovision bosses double down to defend decision not to boycott Israel over Gaza war appeared first on NME.

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