A Eurovision 2019 protest is underway, and more than 50 United Kingdom-based celebrities have signed onto a letter asking the BBC not to support the annual song contest due to it taking place in Israel.
Among the big-name celebrities who signed onto the Eurovision 2019 protest letter, which was published Jan. 30 in U.K. paper The Guardian, are designer Vivienne Westwood, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, musician and Womad Festival founder Peter Gabriel and the band Wolf Alice. Several others who work in the entertainment industry signed on as well.
The letter expressly asks the BBC to push for the relocation of Eurovision 2019 to a different country — one “where crimes against [freedom of expression] are not being committed.”
Under tradition, Eurovision is held each year in the country of the previous year’s winner, and Israeli singer Netta won last year’s Eurovision. In September 2018 it was announced that the international song contest would take place in Tel Aviv, as opposed to Jerusalem.
Read the Eurovision 2019 protest letter in its entirety here:
In May, the BBC intends to screen Eurovision 2019 from Israel. Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations — and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.
The European Broadcasting Union chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem — but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces.
On 8 February, the BBC will screen You Decide, the show it says will “deliver the UK the artist it deserves to fly the flag out in Tel Aviv in May.” For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honour. They and the BBC should consider that “You Decide” is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot decide to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid. Even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship were told in the nation-state law passed last year that only Jews have the “right to national self-determination.”
When discrimination and exclusion are so deeply embedded, Eurovision 2019’s claim to celebrate diversity and inclusion must ring hollow. Much more in tune with “inclusivity” is the outpouring of support across Europe for the Palestinian call for artists and broadcasters not to go to Tel Aviv.
The BBC is bound by its charter to “champion freedom of expression.” It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.