A group of British cultural figures on Tuesday signed a letter calling on the BBC to cancel coverage of this year’s Eurovision song contest because it is taking place in Israel.
The letter, published in the Guardian, criticizes Israel over its alleged “occupation of Palestinian territories.”
“Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights,” it reads. “The BBC is bound by its charter to ‘champion freedom of expression’. It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.”
The letter comes as the UK prepares to select its entry for the annual song competition in a public vote on a BBC2 show entitled Eurovision: You Decide, to be aired on February 8.
“For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honor. They and the BBC should consider that You Decide is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot ‘decide’ to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid,” wrote the artists.
Signatories to the letter include Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel, Mike Leigh, as well as actors Julie Christie and Maxine Peake, musician Wolf Alice and writers Caryl Churchill and AL Kennedy.
Another signatory to the letter is former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, a notorious anti-Israel activist who has verbally attacked and pressured many artists who chose to perform in Israel over the last several years.
Waters was also among a group of more than 100 artists who published an open letter this past September calling for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 since it is being held in Israel.
Israel won the right to host Eurovision in 2019 after Netta Barzilai’s victory in this year’s edition of the song contest with her song “Toy”.
Despite the repeated calls for a boycott, dozens of countries have confirmed participation in the 2019 contest. They include Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The BBChas already confirmed that it will cover the contest, resisting the calls for a boycott. Australian public television network SBShas also said it will broadcast Eurovision despite an online petition calling on the broadcaster to boycott the event.