Disproportionate apprehension?
Eurovision Song Contest 'irritated enough' with Israeli security

European culture contest management sends frantic letter to PM demanding Israeli protection: 'Consequences could be disastrous.'

Mordechai Sones ,

Tel Aviv Eurovision advertisement
Tel Aviv Eurovision advertisement
Flash 90

The European culture exhibition and competition known as the Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled to occur in Tel Aviv, has written a frantic letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and ministers expressing "irritation" and warning of "disastrous consequences" for the event should Israel not accede to their demand to assign bomb-sniffing canine units to the event.

The letter did not specify who might pose a security threat to the competition, but it did claim with what might be described as disproportionate apprehension that "with the level of exposure of an event like the Eurovision Song Contest, it is essential that such K9 bomb search routine be undertaken in all parts of the venue."

ESC Reference Group Chairman Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling and ESC Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand wrote the Prime Minister that "you personally confirmed that the Eurovision Song Contest is an event of national importance for which security is the responsibility of the state; you guaranteed that the state will take all necessary steps to ensure that an event of such importance would be treated accordingly and that safety for all elements of the Eurovision Song Contest will be secured. It is already irritating enough that over the last few months there has been constant discussions on who is paying what for the external security measures around the Eurovision Song Contest. This all culminated yesterday, as we learned that the Israeli police has been instructed not to proceed with the inspection of the venue and equipment (so-called “K9 bomb search routine”) at the Eurovision Song Contest Venue.

"Needless to say that with the level of exposure of an event like the Eurovision Song Contest, it is essential that such K9 bomb search routine be undertaken in all parts of the venue and for all entering equipment in line with state of the art security rules. Please be advised that this search routine has always been undertaken in all countries where the ESC has taken place in the past years and refraining from doing so would be unprecedented."

The letter went on to threaten that "work cannot resume without the K9 bomb search routine being appropriately undertaken. Without a rapid turnaround of this instruction, the delays entailed by the absence of this essential security measure will have severe and significant negative consequences on the ability to hold the rehearsals on time and thus on the budget and on the quality of the shows that will be broadcast out of Tel Aviv."

Not sufficing with this warning, the letter went on to hint at diplomatic repercussions for Israel as "the EBU will have to inform the 41 delegations of this situation. As you may guess, in view of the recent events in Tel Aviv, this is already a delicate topic for the delegations. This new information will only raise more concerns and questions on the appropriateness of the security and safety measures implemented in Israel for the Eurovision Song Contest."

The European letter concludes by urging the Prime Minister to "take immediate action to ensure that the K9 bomb search routine be undertaken promptly by the police today so that the work of the production team can resume ... consequences could be disastrous for the Eurovision Song Contest and Israel."