Israel and the Eurovision

Sir, – A letter (March 25th) signed by Palestinian artists urges all Eurovision 2019 finalists to withdraw from the contest, while making the outrageous claim that Israel's "explicit agenda" in hosting the event is to "whitewash its crimes against humanity".

Israel won the competition fairly and squarely in Lisbon last May. As has always been the tradition with Eurovision, the winning country hosts the event the following year.

The latest scurrilous claim is that the Tel Aviv convention centre hosting Eurovision is “built atop the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of al-Shaykh Muwannis”. In truth, while Al-Shaykh Muwannis was an Arab village located in Tel Aviv, it was nowhere near where the Eurovision is being held.

Established in the 18th century by Egyptian peasants following the conquering of Ibrahim Pasha – an Egyptian general who fought against the Ottoman Empire – the people of Al-Shaykh Muwannis fled during the 1948 war, when six Arab armies attacked the newly established Jewish state in order to destroy it.


The escape of many of the Arab residents came as a result of an instruction given by their own leadership, which was to leave their homes, with the promise that they could return once the task of conquering and ethnically cleansing the land from the Jews was complete. Of course that never happened, as Israel won, and continues to win, its wars of self-defence.

The Palestinian artists would do well to remember that the “besieged Gaza Strip” is under the control of Hamas: a brutal, Islamist dictatorship that is currently in the process of imprisoning, torturing and murdering its own people, most notably Palestinian writer Atef Abu Saif, who was hospitalised last week after a beating his publisher said “almost killed him” and which included the breaking of all five fingers on his right hand.

The reference to Nelson Mandela meeting Dunnes Stores strikers is an attempt to smear Israel as an “apartheid state” and to advocate a boycott of Israeli goods. In truth, Mandela saw Israel as a valuable ally and his vision was of peace with full acceptance of the Jewish state. At no time did he accuse Israel of being an “apartheid state”.

History is not there to be conveniently rewritten when the reality doesn’t serve our narrative. When Sarah McTernan and the other Eurovision contestants write their history, it is hoped they will be standing firmly on the side of truth, justice and human rights. – Yours, etc,



Ireland Israel Alliance,

Dublin 2.