With the confirmation of the host city for Eurovision 2019 expected within the next week, a number of artists have signed an open letter calling for a boycott of the Israel-hosted edition of the song contest. Over 140 musicians and other artists from Europe and abroad have signed a letter published in The Guardian newspaper on Friday.
The open letter calls for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, in support of Palestinian artists. The letter writers say that while the EBU has requested a “non-divisive” location for Eurovision 2019, this isn’t good enough and that Israel should not host the contest at all.
The full text of the open letter is as follows:
“We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel. Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights.
“On 14 May, days after Israel’s Eurovision win, the Israeli army killed 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including six children, and injured hundreds, most with live ammunition. Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy and Human Rights Watch described the killings as “unlawful and calculated”.
“Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights. We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a “non-divisive” location for the 2019 Eurovision. It should cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record. Injustice divides, while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites.”
The letter has been signed by various artists from Eurovision countries Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, as well as some artists from the United States and Canada.
A number of Eurovision and national final stars are among the signatories. The most accomplished name is the Irish musician Charlie McGettigan, who won Eurovision 1994 with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”. Also adding their names are Finnish Eurovision singers Kaija Kärkinen (1991) Kyösti Laihi (1988, with Boulevard).
Two recent Icelandic national final acts are also on the list. Söngvakeppnin 2017 runner-up Daði Freyr and 2017 finalist Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir have both signed the letter.
Also signing their names are former Irish Eurovision commentator Mike Murphy, Riverdance set designer Robert Ballagh and Spain’s Eurocasting 2017 entrant Nicky Triphook.
McGettigan and Ballagh were among artists who earlier signed an Irish petition calling for a boycott of Eurovision 2019 in Israel.
The open letter has primarily been signed by a large number of artists with no direct connection to Eurovision, including some respected icons. This includes Canadian novelist Yann Martel, Crowded House bass player Nick Seymour, British actress Julie Christie, legendary music producer Brian Eno, respected British film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, The Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler, and Arrested Development actress Alia Shawkat.
Neither the EBU nor host broadcaster KAN have yet responded to the open letter. Yesterday the EBU gave a statement on the selection of the host city for Eurovision 2019. It noted that, despite media speculation, a decision on the host city had not yet been made. Israeli media, however, are reporting that Tel Aviv is the likely candidate.
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