Eurovision facing calls for boycott as Israel announces 2024 entrant

Artists from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Iceland have called for Israel to be suspended from the competition

Maira Butt
Thursday 08 February 2024 17:23 GMT
Olly Alexander teases Britain's Eurovision 2024 song 'Dizzy'

The Eurovision Song Contest is facing growing calls for a boycott after entrant Israel announced its representative this week.

Eden Golan, 20, was picked to perform for the country after a TV talent show in which she covered Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”.

In a politically charged performance, she dedicated the song to the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas following attacks on 7 October.

Golan, who was born in Israel but raised in Russia, would mark the country’s 46th appearance in the competition, Israel being the first non-European entrant in the competition’s history when it joined in 1973.

However, organisers are facing growing calls to have the country kicked out over its military operations in the Gaza strip as Palestinians face an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Last month, Iceland’s Association of Composers and Lyricists called for Israel to be suspended from the competition in a statement saying its participation in an event “characterised by joy and optimism” would be incompatible with its military actions.

They said they would be opposing their country’s inclusion in the contest unless Israel is disqualified and a petition calling for the same gathered over 10,000 signatures.

Israel’s last entrant Noa Kirel during the opening of the grand final for the Eurovision Song Contest final at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool in 2023.

Iceland isn’t alone in its condemnation as musicians from multiple countries including Sweden, Finland and Denmark called for the country to be pulled from the competition.

Over 1,400 music industry professionals in Finland have signed a petition to ban the country, accusing their national broadcaster of double standards as it was among the first to demand a ban on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

In 2022, Russia was banned from taking part in the competition following its military action in Ukraine following criticism from a number of countries for it to be suspended. It did not return to the competition following its exit.

Danish and Norwegian musicians have composed similar letters with Sweden’s artists including Robyn, Fever Ray and First Aid King signing an open letter accusing Israel of war crimes.

Olly Alexander signed a letter accusing Israel of genocide and being an apartheid state

Responding to the calls, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the contest, said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for public service broadcasters from across Europe and the Middle East. It is a competition for broadcasters – not governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the contest for 50 years.

“The Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event that unites audiences worldwide through music.”

Noel Curran, the director general of the European Broadcasting Union, told The New York Times situations in Ukraine and Gaza were “different” insisting: “Comparisons between wars and conflicts are complex and difficult and, as a nonpolitical media organization, not ours to make.”

An Israeli official told the Daily Telegraph that calls for a boycott and its justifications were “absurd” accusing signatories such as Alexander of “anti-Israel bias”.

The Independent has reached out to Eden Golan’s team for comment.

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmo, Sweden in May this year.

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