Yesterday a senior official of Israel’s Sport and Culture Ministry said that Jerusalem is not a lock to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.
And today his colleague — the Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev — shot back, saying that if Jerusalem doesn’t host the contest then it should be moved to another country.
According to the Times of Israel, Regev told the public broadcaster Kan: “I will recommend to the government that if the Eurovision is not in Jerusalem, then it wouldn’t be right to host it.”
“It will cost Israel NIS 50 million ($14 million) and is designed to market the country,” she said. “So I personally say, if the Eurovision won’t be held in Jerusalem, it’s not right to invest the NIS 50 million in public funds.”
“The state of Israel has a capital, it’s called Jerusalem, and we should not be ashamed of it.”
Haaretz previously reported that Regev — and another minister Ayoub Kara — has ruffled feathers with the European Broadcasting Union.
An unnamed source with the public broadcaster told the newspaper that the EBU felt she was skirting procedure by making public comments about Eurovision 2019 taking place in Jerusalem before official talks had even started.
The source was quoted as saying: “For Regev and Kara to make decisions even before they hear anything about hosting the Eurovision is not acceptable as far as the EBU people are concerned.”
Her latest comments come after the Argentine football team decided to cancel an exhibition appearance in Israel after receiving “threats and provocations” from Palestinian groups.
That pressure came after the match was moved from Haifa to Jerusalem, whose status is disputed politically and in diplomatic practice.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has subsequently suggested that other cultural events may be under threat.
“I hope this will not affect other areas,” he said while in the UK. “We must prepare for the possibility that all kinds of pressure will be exerted.”
Regev has come under fire for her handling of the Argentine football incident.
What do you think of Regev’s “Jerusalem or nothing” attitude? Do you think that Tel Aviv would be a better host city? Sound off down below!