Eurovision will not ban Israel amid Gaza genocide

15 Feb 2024 11:31pm
Rock band Let 3 performs on behalf of Croatia during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2023 on May 13, 2023 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, northern England. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)
Rock band Let 3 performs on behalf of Croatia during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2023 on May 13, 2023 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, northern England. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

GENEVA - Israel can compete in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, organisers said Thursday, despite calls for it to be excluded over the Gaza war like Russia was after invading Ukraine, AFP reported.

There has been demands and petitions for Israel to be kicked out of the world's biggest live music event, which is being held in Malmo, Sweden this May.

The European Broadcasting Union said it had conducted a review and decided Israel could participate in the kitsch annual pop extravaganza citing "non-political" stand.

"The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political music event and a competition between public service broadcasters who are members of the EBU. It is not a contest between governments.

"Our governing bodies... did review the participants list for the 2024 contest and agreed that the Israeli public broadcaster KAN met all the competition rules for this year and can participate, as it has for the past 50 years," EBU director general Noel Curran said in a statement.

Israel is to take part in the second semi-final on May 9, from which 10 of the 16 contenders will progress to the grand final on May 11.

Eden Golan, 20, who grew up in Russia, will represent Israel after winning a domestic contest. Her song has yet to be announced.

Israel has qualified for every grand final since 2015.

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The five-month long bombardment of Gaza by Israel started on Oct 7, after Hamas' military wing the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades carried out an offensive operations on southenr Israel, resulting to about 1,160 deaths as reported by the Israeli government.

Since then, Israel's attacks on Gaza have killed at least 28,576 Palestinians and wounded 68,291 others. While in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported 288 Palestinians were killed and 3,430 others injured since the start of the ongoing attacks since October.

- Russia situation 'different' -

This move by EBU has been since as nothing but bias and selective seeing that after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, saw EBU stating that including a Russian entry in that year's contest "would bring the competition into disrepute".

The decision was "based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU", it said. Curran said it was not the EBU's place to make comparisons between wars.

"In the case of Russia, the Russian broadcasters themselves were suspended from the EBU due to their persistent breaches of membership obligations and the violation of public service values.

"The relationship between KAN and the Israeli government is fundamentally different to the relationship that exists between those Russian members and the state, with the Israeli government in recent years threatening to close down the broadcaster," he said.

Founded in 1950, the Geneva-based EBU is the world's biggest public service media alliance and has 112 member organisations in 56 countries.

Curran said the EBU was acting in line with other international organisations, such as sports federations, which have kept Israel in their competitions.

In 1998, Israel's Dana International became the first openly transgender singer to win Eurovision. After victories in 1978 and 1979, Israel won Eurovision for a fourth time in 2018.

Malmo is hosting the 68th edition after Swedish singer Loreen won the 2023 contest in Liverpool with the song "Tattoo", watched by some 162 million viewers. The 2024 event coincides with the 50th anniversary of ABBA's Eurovision victory -- Sweden's first -- with their breakthrough hit "Waterloo".