The Left Party of Sweden did it. So have members of the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party in the UK, and Sinn Fein in Ireland. And now The Australian Greens have raised questions about a potential boycott of Eurovision 2019 in Israel following the recent violence in Gaza.
As Australia’s TV Tonight reports, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon raised the issue with SBS CEO Michael Ebeid at a Senate Estimates hearing last week.
“Recent events along the Gaza border have shown that the Israeli army engage in lethal military actions, on days that are seen as ‘significant’ or when Palestinian-protests are planned,” she said.
“This means Eurovision‘s activities could impact on who lives and who dies. Will SBS consider these factors when it considers whether to participate in next year’s contest or if it’s held in 2020?”
SBS CEO Michael Ebeid brushed the question aside, saying that the spirit of Eurovision — formed in the aftermath of World War II to bring Europe together — “transcends” the issues she put forward.
“The whole point of Eurovision is to forget politics, forget all of that and unite communities and countries together in the spirit of song, in the spirit of celebration, in the spirit of culture,” he said.
He also reminded the Senator of Israel’s previous hosting gigs — in 1979 and 1999.
“Israel has won before, Israel has hosted before and it in the spirit of unity and bringing people together and cultures together I can’t imagine that we would not televise Eurovision next year.”
No serious boycott threat
As we previously reported, more than 25,000 people in Iceland have signed a petition calling for broadcaster RUV to pull out of the contest in light of “human rights abuses of Israel against the Palestinian people.”
That follows a call from the Lord Mayor of Dublin asking Ireland’s RTE to stay home as well.
But Ebeid doesn’t think these and other calls for boycotts have legs.
“I’ve certainly not seen any serious boycott,” he said. “I know some quarters have talked about it but as I say the European Broadcasting Union is all about uniting people and communities not about the dividing them and and Eurovision Song Contest is something that transcends politics.”
Photo: Andres Putting (EBU)