In a blow to the anti-Israel boycott campaign, the BBC dismissed a call from supporters of the movement to ask for Eurovision to be moved out of Israel, saying it will broadcast the show because it is “not a political event,” The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.
The BBC said in a statement that it “does not endorse any political message or campaign.” The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the contest, also emphasized the “non-political character of the event” and noted that preparations in Tel Aviv were already “well advanced.”
Some 50 British cultural figures signed a letter published on Tuesday in the Guardian in which they urged the broadcaster to use its influence to “press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.”
The signatories included well-known anti-Israel activists Roger Waters and Ken Loach, as well as musician Peter Gabriel, designer Vivienne Westwood, and actor Julie Christie.
They charged that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) “chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem – but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings ande by Israel’s security forces.”
Many of the letter’s signatories have previously made calls for a cultural boycott of Israel, putting pressure on artists such as Nick Cave, Radiohead and Lana Del Rey for planning concerts in the Jewish State.
However, the BBC rejected the demands of the letter and pointed out that, “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.”
The broadcaster added: “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.”
The contest is traditionally held in the latest winner’s home country and is due to take place in Tel Aviv in May, following Israeli singer Netta’s victory in 2018.
[Photo: Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube ]