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Creative industry reps call for BBC to push for Eurovision to be moved out of Israel

By | Published on Thursday 31 January 2019

Eurovision Song Contest

Peter Gabriel, Wolf Alice and Reverend And The Makers are among 50 representatives of the music, film, TV and fashion communities to call on the BBC to ask for the Eurovision Song Contest to be relocated from Israel. The BBC has said that it will continue as planned.

Organised by the Boycott, Divestment And Sanctions movement, which calls for the cultural boycott of Israel over its policies towards Palestine, an open letter to The Guardian says that “Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations”.

It goes on: “On 8 Feb, 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”, it adds, “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'”.

Saying that there is an “outpouring of support across Europe for the Palestinian call for artists and broadcasters not to go to Tel Aviv”, it calls on the BBC to push for the contest to not take place in Israel at all.

“The BBC is bound by its charter to ‘champion freedom of expression'”, says the letter. “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”.

In a statement, the BBC said that Eurovision is “not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign”.

“The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons”, it goes on. “Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC”.

Eurovision organiser the European Broadcasting Union also said that the event is “non-political”, adding that preparations for this year’s contest in Tel Aviv are “well advanced”.