Israel should not be hosting the Eurovision contest

Palestine Update 243

Israel should not be hosting the Eurovision contest
Eurovision, the international song competition is being organized to coincide with Nakba day – the day of catastrophe, when in 1948, more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland by Israeli militia. The singing contest falls exactly a year after Israeli troops massacred more than 60 protesters in Gaza. Each year, at about this time, Israel celebrates its so-called Independence Day, oblivious to the tragedy its establishment caused for Palestine’s indigenous people. People seeking justice in the region are asking on what basis Israel should be rewarded by the glitz and glamour of the Eurovision song contest. It sends a fake impression that Israel is a normal state despite the ground truth according to which Israel’s policies and conduct obviously clash with so many civilized norms that the international community aims to live by.

Israel should not be hosting the Eurovision at all. The choice of Israel as the venue is totally inappropriate. Israel qualifies for the competition only because the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, which is responsible for the event. Nevertheless, Israel is not part of Europe. It likes to see itself as European, but that is not the same thing. The very name of the contest suggests that it is characteristically a European affair.  Israel is a country in the Middle East. How does it get to host the contest? Eligibility for Eurovision is not based on geography but membership of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the event and the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, is a member. Technically, this means that Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco and Tunisia are also eligible to participate. In fact, Morocco took part in 1980 after Israel withdrew because the date of the contest overlapped with the Jewish holiday of Passover.

There are political issues too. In all probability it is likely that Expo Tel Aviv, like many other parts of the city, was built on land originally expropriated from Palestinian villages close by. These villages were once evacuated by the use of Israeli terror and brute force after 1948, and then demolished. This ugly history has not gone; it will hang over all the singing and the dancing at the Expo Centre.

Twenty minutes away from the Eurovision festivities is the Gaza Strip, a beleaguered land of siege, poverty and hunger, of Israel’s own making. Eighty per cent of the population is aid-dependent, unemployment runs at between 50 and 70 percent, shortages of basic materials are frequent and severe, and hospitals can barely cope with the sick and wounded.

Palestinians today are disjointed over different countries, 5.3 million of them still living in refugee camps. For years Israel has striven to escape or cover over its responsibility for this tragedy, and in that sense, the Eurovision contest pours opium over these wounds.

In this issue of Palestine Updates, we share pertinent articles on the inter-related questions of question of Eurovision, the policies of settler colonialism and the Nakba. Please read and disseminate.

Ranjan Solomon

Eurovision celebrates as Palestinians mourn expulsion

While Palestinians commemorated the 71st anniversary of the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of their homeland in 1948, Eurovision got into high gear in Tel Aviv. “This weekend, almost 200 million people will tune in to watch the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel, but, behind the glitz and glamour, few will be thinking of Israel’s role in fuelling seven decades of misery for Palestinian refugees.” (Amnesty International) Dozens of international artists, human rights organizations, LGBTQ+ groups and Palestinian civil society have called for a boycott of this year’s Eurovision, and protests have continued to grow.

Eurovision defends “Greater Israel” logo
The organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest are defending their use of an official logo which appears to represent all of historic Palestine – including the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip – as part of Israel. European Broadcasting Union states that there was nothing intentional about the logo that depicts a stylized outline of historic Palestine – or “Greater Israel” as Zionists label it – including occupied territory that Israel is moving to annex in flagrant violation of international law. “This year’s logo, created by host broadcaster Kan, comprises three triangles which, when united, shine together to create a form complementing the slogan, ‘Dare to Dream,’” the European Broadcasting Union claims in its letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Electronic Intifada.

Eurovision 2019: Artwashing Israel’s Mass Crimes in Palestine
As Eurovision 2019 begins in Israel on May 14, people’s movements across the globe, along with Palestinian organizations, have given a call to boycott the international song contest. Israel is attempting to use the contest for ‘artwashing’ its acts of crimes against humanity in Palestine, and to erase the history of its brutal occupation in Gaza and West Bank.

Palestinians perform anti-Eurovision concert in Gaza
Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip today performed a concert to call for the boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest, which is being held in Israel on Saturday. The Jusoor International Communications Group held a concert on the ruins of the home of the Abu Amar family, which was bombed by Israeli warplanes during the latest round of attacks on May 4-6.

Israel deploys Iron Domes for EurovisionIsraeli occupation army has deployed “extensive” Iron Dome aerial defense batteries for Eurovision contest which is taking place in Tel Aviv today. This follows last week’s Israeli attack on the Gaza strip, to which the resistance movement in Gaza stroke back. 25 Palestinians were killed in the attacks and 800 homes were destroyed, while four settlers were killed by the retaliatory strikes. Egypt mediated for a ceasefire deal between Hamas resistance group and the Israeli Authorities.