We are writing to you, as Palestinians and allies concerned with human rights and equality, to urge you to withdraw from commentating on Eurovision 2019, due to be held in Tel Aviv, Israel. Participating in this whitewashing of an apartheid regime would implicate you in Israel’s grave violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
The decision to hold Eurovision in Israel at best ignores, and at worst tacitly signals approval of, Israel’s decades-old military occupation and ongoing discriminatory policies towards Palestinians. We are certain that you would not want your talent to be used to obscure these crimes.
Israel’s violations of international law continue every day - we cannot turn a blind eye to this for the sake of our own entertainment. Palestinians have asked the international community to respect the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) call to boycott Israel until it complies with international law. The least that you can do is not to undermine this struggle.
Eurovision 2019 is part of the Israeli government’s ‘Brand Israel’ programme, which uses culture to distract from its ongoing denial of Palestinian rights. Israel held a celebratory concert with 2018 Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai on the evening of the Gaza Great Return March’s deadliest day, when Israeli occupation forces massacred 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters. Netanyahu has referred to Barzilai as ‘the best ambassador’ of Israel.
The Eurovision contest will be held on the ruins of Al-Sheikh Muwannis, a Palestinian village whose inhabitants were expelled during the 1948 Nakba. On 18th May, they will watch as Eurovision fans around the world are allowed to celebrate in the home they continue to be denied the right to return to. This contradicts Eurovision’s stated values of inclusion, diversity and unity - and it is certainly at odds with this year’s Eurovision slogan, ‘Dare to Dream’. For 70 years, Israel has worked to prevent Palestinian dreams of freedom, justice and equality from becoming a reality.
For decades, Palestinians have been struggling against colonial policies which are designed to take their land, and attack their lives and freedoms. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinians who continue to resist Israel’s ongoing efforts to erase their identity and existence, and ‘dare to dream’ of a reality in which they can enjoy the rights and freedoms that should be available to all people.
We urge you to stand up for Palestinian human rights, and to withdraw from your participation in Eurovision 2019.
London Palestine Action