The Eurovision Song Contest is scheduled to take place in May and Britain is ready to take part.
Eurovision is typically a festivity which introduces up-and-coming talent and brings people together to enjoy music. Eurovision has long been an event which ‘celebrates inclusion and tolerance’.
However, this year the contest risks actively discouraging those principles. Eurovision 2019 is due to be hosted by Israel against a backdrop of illegal military occupation and widespread attacks on human rights.
Israel’s government has depicted Netta Barzilai, 2018’s Eurovision winner, as an “ambassador”. She has described the contest as being used to show Israel is “the best place in the world”. This follows the country’s ‘Brand Israel’ strategy which aims to deflect from the Israeli occupation and abuses of Palestinian rights.
Eurovision will be used by the Israeli government to justify its occupation. Having the contest in Israel would overlook the abuse of Palestinian rights and actively ignore the calls to support Palestinian rights from the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Palestinian suffering in the last year has been severe with continued land confiscations, village demolitions, military checkpoints, evictions and repression.
This is the context in which other musicians have refused to play Eurovision, in a stand for Palestinian rights. It is estimated that thousands of artists have committed to not performing in Israel until there is justice for Palestinians, among them Roger Waters, Marcel Khalife, Wolf Alice and Jarvis Cocker.
Friends of Al-Aqsa have launched our Eurovision campaign to call for artists and the BBC to withdraw from this year’s contest.