PA official: Don't hold Eurovision in Israel

PA official in charge of cultural affairs says holding Eurovision in Israel “whitewashes the Israeli occupation”.

Tags: Eurovision PA
Elad Benari ,

Eurovision logo
Eurovision logo

The Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of cultural affairs, Ehab Bseiso, on Monday warned against using holding the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel in 2019, saying doing so “whitewashes the Israeli occupation” and its violations against the Palestinian people.

Should the contest be held in Israel, it would be a crime against the Palestinian people and culture, warned Bseiso, according to the Wafa news agency.

“We call on all cultural promoters in Europe and elsewhere to make culture a tool for justice and not a tool for oppression,” he was quoted as having said in a press conference in Ramallah.

Israel, charged Bseiso, regularly violates Palestinian rights in “the occupied territories”, particularly for artists and creative people by either restricting their movement, arresting them for their writings and closing cultural institutions.

“We look to Eurovision as a contest to promote culture and art,” he said, adding, “Therefore, any act by Eurovision that does not agree with international law is going to serve the occupation and its goals.”

Bseiso urged the participants in the next Eurovision contest “to pay attention to the suffering and agony of our people. To hold this event is a step toward accepting the violations of the occupation.”

Israel won the right to host Eurovision after Netta Barzilai’s victory in this year’s edition of the song contest. Last week, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced that the 2019 Eurovision song contest will take place in Tel Aviv.

There have already been several calls to boycott of next year’s contest due to the fact that Israel will host it. One such call came from Dublin Mayor Micheal Mac Donncha, who said Ireland should boycott the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in order to show solidarity with the “horrific ordeal of the Palestinian people.”

Mac Donncha’s call for a boycott came a day after several leftist Irish lawmakers expressed support for boycotting Israel following its winning the Eurovision song contest.

Last week, a group of more than 100 artists, including former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters and British composer Brian Eno, published an open letter in the British Guardian newspaper in which they called for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 if it is held in Israel.

Bseiso praised the European artists who signed the letter.

“This document by European artists is proof that Palestine is not alone,” he said, adding, “We do not want events that present only half the scene and hide the other half. They should present the whole scene, especially the Palestinian part.”