Israel

Entertainment Execs Denounce Campaign Against Eurovision in Israel

More than 100 artists and leading names in the entertainment industry, including talent competition judge Sharon Osbourne and Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss, have signed an open letter denouncing the proposed boycott of Eurovision in Israel.

In their letter, published on Tuesday, the signatories state that Eurovision’s “spirit of togetherness” is being threatened by activists “calling to boycott Eurovision 2019 because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division.”

The initiative against the cultural boycott of Israel was organized by the non-profit organization Creative Community for Peace (CCFP). It describes the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish State as “an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition.

“While we all may have differing opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the best path to peace, we all agree that a cultural boycott is not the answer,” the letter continues.

The celebrities were responding to efforts by the global BDS movement to organize a widespread boycott of the song competition. In January 2019, entertainment figures, including well-known anti-Israel activists Roger Waters and Ken Loach, as well as musician Peter Gabriel, designer Vivienne Westwood, and actor Julie Christie signed a letter calling on the BBC to cancel coverage of the event.

The BBC dismissed their call for Eurovision to be moved out of Israel, saying it will broadcast the show because it is “not a political event.”

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 Barzilai‘s victory in 2018.

“Being on the same stage, no matter what your religion or ethnicity or colour, from all these countries, from all these cultures, this is a festival of light,” the singer said Monday at the annual meeting of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem.

“For people to boycott light is spreading darkness. It’s the exact opposite thing.”

[Photo: Wouter van Vliet / Eurovisionary]