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Eurovision 2024: Nordic artists calling for Israel to be banned

Eurovision: Nordic artists calling for Israel to be banned
Eurovision: Nordic artists calling for Israel to be banned Copyright  Eurovision Song Contest - Canva
Copyright  Eurovision Song Contest - Canva
By David Mouriquand
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Following calls for boycott since it was confirmed that Israel would be participating in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, more and more petitions are demanding the exclusion of Israel, over alleged war crimes in Gaza.

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Finnish and Icelandic artists, as well as protestors in Norway, are calling for Israel to be banned from Eurovision. They join the voices of pro-Palestinian artists and activists who are opposed to the country’s participation in the 2024 edition, which will be held in Malmö (Sweden) in May.

Since 5 December 2023, when it was made official that 36 countries, including Israel, would take part in Eurovision 2024, more and more have been calling for a boycott of the contest.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which oversees the organisation of the contest, has reiterated that Eurovision is an "apolitical" event, and that Israel meets all the conditions for taking part.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for public broadcasters from all over Europe and the Middle East. It is a contest for broadcasters – not for governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has been participating in the contest for 50 years.”

This hasn’t stopped more than 1,400 Finnish artists joining Icelandic musicians in demanding that Israel be banned over alleged war crimes in Gaza.

“It is not in accordance with our values that a country that commits war crimes and continues a military occupation is given a public stage to polish its image in the name of music,” reads a petition that has been signed by Finland-based artists, musicians and music industry professionals.

The artists, including Axel Ehnström, who represented Finland at Eurovision in 2011, have stated that if Israel is not excluded from the competition, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) should boycott the contest and refuse to send a Finnish entry.

Lukas Korpelainen, one of the authors of the petition, told the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet that it was unacceptable for Israel to take part in Eurovision.

“Israel violates human rights,” said Korpelainen, adding: “We don’t think it’s okay for the country to be part of the (Eurovision) to polish its image.”

The authors of the petition also accused Yle of double standards, as the broadcasting company was one of the first to demand a ban on Russia’s participation in Eurovision, following its invasion of Ukraine in 2022,

Elsewhere, Norwegian demonstrators from Aksjonsgruppa for Palestine (Action Group for Palestine) gathered outside the headquarters of the NRK television station in Oslo last weekend, according to local media reports.

"We want Norway and NRK to work for the exclusion of Israel", the activists explained in a press release.

In a previous statement, NRK said they “cannot call for a cultural boycott.”

“It's not part of our broadcasting remit, it would be totally impossible for us.”

Previously, the Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists told national broadcaster RUV that its members would not take part in the local selection for Eurovision 2024 if Israel's participation in the competition was maintained.

The Icelandic petition also echoed fears of a double standard, noting that the EBU excluded Russia after it invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Responding to the calls for a ban, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Ziv Nevo Kulman, said: “On 7 October, Israel was brutally attacked by a vicious terrorist organisation that openly calls for its annihilation. Promoting a boycott of Israel is supporting the acts of Hamas, is giving a prize to terrorism and is incompatible with the values of the (Eurovision Broadcasting Union) and of the competition.”

Israel has been taking part in the contest since 1973, and has won the contest for times – in 1978, 1979, 1998, and most recently in 2018, when Netta Barzilai won with ‘Toy’ in Lisbon.

Additional sources • EBU, Hufvudstadsbladet, Het Laatste Nieuws

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