Call for boycott of Eurovision in Israel

 

Sir, – As RTÉ prepares to announce its Eurovision entrant, the Irish Campaign to Boycott the Eurovision in 2019 in Israel reiterates its call for the broadcaster, the performers and all workers to heed the call from Palestinian civil society, echoed by over 16,000 people in Ireland and thousands more internationally, not to participate in this year’s contest.

Given the shocking news that Israel’s state broadcaster KAN will reserve 500 rehearsal tickets for Israeli soldiers, the claim that the competition is “a non-political music event” does not stand up; rather, it reveals it to be an explicitly political and militaristic event. On February 28th, as reported in The Irish Times, (“UN says Israel should face justice for Gaza protest killings”), the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Great Return March in Gaza found that Israeli forces intentionally shot dead Palestinian civilians including children, journalists and medics, killing 183 and wounding thousands. The Israeli military has been repeatedly accused of war crimes by the UN and human rights organisations, and also routinely spies on LGBTQIA+ Palestinians in order “to extort/blackmail” and “turn them into a collaborator[s]”, as revealed by former Israeli intelligence operatives in 2014.

The locations on the “visual postcards” to be broadcast between Eurovision acts will feature the occupied Golan Heights, and likely include the Old City in Palestinian East Jerusalem. It is clear that Israel intends to use the event to portray land that is internationally recognised as occupied and illegally annexed – including by the Irish Government, the EU, and the UN – as being part of the Israeli state.

It is absolutely unthinkable that RTÉ would facilitate or participate in providing entertainment to Israeli soldiers, or broadcast Israeli state propaganda that normalises its occupation.

Our campaign has broad support internationally and in Ireland from artists, human rights activists and public figures, including a former Eurovision winner, commentator and presenters: it also has the endorsement of the Musicians’ Union of Ireland (MUI) and Irish Equity, and the NUJ Dublin Broadcasting Branch has committed to supporting members refusing to cover the contest due to Israel’s “continued attacks on journalists and on freedom of expression”.

This is the moment to stand on the right side of history and to heed the call for solidarity from the Palestinian people. We must refuse to take part in pinkwashing and artwashing Israel’s decades long oppression of the Palestinian people. We must not participate in Eurovision 2019. – Yours, etc,

ZOË LAWLOR,

Cultural Liaison,

BETTY PURCELL,

Media Officer,

Ireland-Palestine

Solidarity Campaign,

Dublin 1.