Helen Mirren, Gene Simmonds and Boy George sign letter supporting Israel's inclusion in Eurovision

Actress Helen Mirren poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009.
Actress Helen Mirren poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. Copyright Matt Sayles/AP2009
Copyright Matt Sayles/AP2009
By Jonny Walfisz
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The letter comes in response to calls to ban the country from entry into this year's Eurovision song contest that's set to take place in Sweden.


More than 400 creatives from the entertainment industry have signed a letter in support of Israel’s inclusion in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Helen Mirren, Gene Simmons and Boy George are among the people who have signed the letter released by Creative Community For Peace (CCFP), a non-profit organisation working to educate about antisemitism and campaign against cultural boycotts of Israel.

Mirren recently starred in Golda, a biopic of Golda Meir, Israel's first female prime minister. Other names on the list include actor Liev Schrieber, music producer Scooter Braun, and Sharon Osbourne.

The open letter comes in response to open letters signed by over 2,000 Finnish, Swedish and Icelandic musicians calling for the country to be banned from the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest.

Both letters represent the polarised conversation over cultural responses to the Israel-Hamas war. The war started after Hamas orchestrated deadly terrorist attacks on Israel on 7 October last year. Over 1,200 people were killed in the attacks with over 200 hostages taken back to Gaza.

Following the 7 October attacks, Israel launched a counter-offensive that has been widely criticised for killing large numbers of Palestinian civilians. Since October, over 28,000 Palestinians have been killed, including over 12,000 children.

As a result of the fighting, there have been calls for Israel’s exclusion from the Eurovision Song Contest to reflect the decision to exclude Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

In support of Israel’s inclusion, CCFP chairman, David Renzer and executive director, Ari Ingel referred to a music festival that Hamas targeted in the 7 October attack: “We join entertainment industry leaders in rejecting the vilification of Israel on the global music stage. After thousands of innocent Israelis were killed, over 360 of them at a music festival as they danced in celebration of life, to see some respond in this fashion is shameful.”

“We hope Eurovision stands firm in the face of this misguided, discriminatory boycott attempt. We want the world to know that the entertainment industry supports the Contest and all this year’s amazing participants, including Israel’s,” they continued.

The open letter notes Israel’s long-standing success at the Eurovision Song Contest, winning in 1978, 1979, 1998, and 2018.

Sweden will host 2024's contest after Loreen won the last edition
Sweden will host 2024's contest after Loreen won the last editionMartin Meissner/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

This year’s contest will be held in Malmö, Sweden in May. The Finnish letter, released last month, has demanded that the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) should boycott the contest and refuse to send a Finnish entry if Israel are included.

“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 the Finnish petition.

This week, Sanremo, the Italian song contest that picks the nation’s entry for Eurovision, attracted controversy when Tunisian-Italian contestant Ghali demanded to “stop genocide” in the show’s finale.

Ghali’s comments were criticised by Israeli ambassador to Italy, Alon Bar, and the CEO of RAI, the state-owned broadcaster that aired Sanremo, Roberto Sergio, expressed solidarity “with the people of Israel and the Jewish community”.

In response to the broadcaster’s comments, pro-Palestinian protestors clashed with Italian police outside RAI’s headquarters in Naples.

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.

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