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Eurovision Song Content - Israel 2019 - Logo

What is Eurovision?

The Eurovision Song Contest, more commonly referred to as Eurovision, is an annual international song competition held primarily among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union.

Each participating broadcaster that represents their country chooses their performer and song through a national televised selection, or through an internal selection. Each country is free to decide if they send their number-one star or the best new talent they could find.

The winner of the contest is chosen through two Semi-Finals and a Grand Final, which are broadcast live with every participating country's public broadcaster. The winner takes home an iconic glass microphone trophy and his/her country traditionally hosts the next Eurovision Song Contest.

Is Eurovision Whitewashing Apartheid?

When and where is it being held in 2019?

The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be the 64th annual edition and will take place in Tel Aviv, Israel after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dates: 14-18 May 2019
Venue: Expo Tel Aviv (International Convention Centre)
Number of participating countries: 41

First Semi-Final
Tuesday 14 May 2019 - 19:00 GMT
17 participating countries

Second Semi-Final
Thursday 16 May 2019 - 19:00 GMT
18 participating countries

Grand Final
Saturday 18 May 2019 - 19:00 GMT
26 participating countries

Who is participating in Eurovision 2019?

41 artists from 41 countries are taking part this year

2 countries have pulled out of Eurovision 2019

Ukraine pulled out due to political tension with Russia and their selected candidate refusing to perform in Russia (no one else wanted to take her place).

Bulgaria pulled out for financial reasons.

Eurovision Song Content - Israel 2019 - Logo

Dare to Dream of Palestinian Human Rights

#MadonnaDontGo

60-year-old American pop superstar Madonna is expected to perform at Eurovision this year despite calls by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and Jewish Voice For Peace for her to cancel her performance using the hashtag #MadonnaDontGo. English rock band Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters also wrote an open letter to Madonna, asking her to cancel her planned performance.

A Palestinian group created a spoof video of a Madonna song to urge the superstar to boycott this year’s contest in Israel.

Campaigners in the UK have also called on Graham Norton, a renowned British TV host and presenter, not to commentate on the event for the BBC.

Videos by London Palestine Action

Eurovision Song Content - Israel 2019 - Logo

Why are Palestinians opposed to the contest being held in Israel?

According to the Gaza-based Palestinian Artists Association, Israel is using Eurovision to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice and whitewash a brutal apartheid regime”. In a statement, the artists cited the killing of more than 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests in Gaza along the perimeter fence on 14 May last year, “the same day Israel won the Eurovision”.

Eurovision is being held in the same week as Palestinians commemorate the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe), when nearly a million Palestinians were forced out of their towns and villages to make way for the creation of the state of Israel 71 years ago. Expo Tel Aviv, the venue where Eurovision is held, was built on the ruins of the Palestinian village of Al-Shaykh Muwannis, which was emptied of its residents and settled by Israelis. Palestinians around the world, unless carrying Israeli citizenship or granted special Israeli permits, are also not allowed to fly into Israel or attend the Eurovision, which they believe is discriminatory.

Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, published a self-parodying promotional video called “Eurovision 2019 – the musical” where two Israeli singers welcome international visitors at the airport: “I know just what you heard, that it’s a land of war and occupation, but we have so much more than that.”

The video has attracted much criticism online from both Palestinian campaigners, who said it was making light of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its war crimes, as well as from Jews and right-wing Israelis who said accuse it of being anti-semitic.

Palestine campaigners produced a two-part video greeting postcard from Palestine, however, carrying this year’s Eurovision slogan “Dare to Dream” calling for the boycott of the event.

The call for boycott

Since Eurovision 2019 was announced last year, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has called on international artists and broadcasters to withdraw from the event, arguing that holding it in Tel Aviv amounts to “artwashing – whitewashing through arts” Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Numerous artists and cultural figures have echoed the Palestinian call to boycott Eurovision. In September 2018, over 140 artists from around the world, including six Israeli artists, signed a letter calling for the boycott of contest if it is “hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Some 50 artists said that the BBC was also not exempt from human rights consideration and cannot ignore the plight of the Palestinians. In a signed letter published in the Guardian newspaper, British personalities such as Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel and Mike Leigh have asked the BBC to cancel its coverage of Eurovision 2019. The BBC declined saying that it was not appropriate for individuals to politicise the corporation’s participation in the event, arguing that Eurovision was not a political event. Israel’s critics dismissed the BBC’s justification insisting that the Zionist state regularly uses cultural events such as the Eurovision to make political statements.

Since then, hundreds more across the world joined the BDS call for the boycott of Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv. Recently, some 171 Swedish artists and celebrities signed an open letter urging for the boycott of the contest and stressed that “as long as Israel, with its apartheid policy, denies the Palestinians their basic human rights, we must renounce all participation in Israeli cultural exchanges.”

Several bands who were offered the chance to take part in Eurovision 2019 have refused to play in Israel, including British bands Slovo and The Tuts.

Slovo declined offers to play in Israel and released a song highlighting Israeli apartheid and called for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Entitled “Not My Kinda Party”, the song refers to Israel as an apartheid regime, and lists aspects of the government’s policies including “illegal settlements” and “kids in prison” followed by the verdict “Nul Points” (a reference to infamous zero score at the Eurovision Song Contest). The central message in the song was in the lyric “I don’t sing for apartheid”.

NOT the Eurovision

Palestinians and pro-Palestinian campaigners are organising several alternative music events across the world in protest of the Eurovision contest being held in Israel.

Not the EuroVision - Party for Palestine

NOT the Eurovision

The biggest alternative live broadcast of protest gigs, Globalvision is set to take place on four international stages - in Bethlehem, London, Haifa and Dublin - at the same time as the Eurovision Final, featuring Palestinian, Israeli and international artists.

In London, “Not the Eurovision: Party for Palestine” features a host of artists including Lowkey, Wolf Alice (DJ set), Hawiyya Dance Company and Jenan Younis.

“While the rest of Britain is slumped in front of the TV on May 18, watching the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv and wondering how its glib message of love between nations is going down in Hebron and Gaza, here in Bath we shall be enjoying a celebration of Palestinian music, culture and life,” organisers of another alternative music event in the UK entitled “Palevision – No Contest!” have said.

Gaza Vision - Alternative to Eurovision

Gaza Vision

In Gaza, Palestinians have staged several concerts in protest against the Eurovision. They have also launched Gazavision, an alternative song contest showcasing some of the emerging talent in Gaza.

Organised by 'We Are Not Numbers', a project of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, Gazavision has six finalists chosen from a field of 27 who entered and winners are selected based on votes they receive online.

Read the stories of the Gazavision finalists and their songs here:

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