Eurovision is an international singing contest that brings contestants together from all over the world. It’s truly amazing to see so much talent gathered together to celebrate music and worldwide unity.
Each year, the event is held in the home country of the prior year’s winner. Eurovision 2018 was won by Israeli singer Netta Barzilai. In conjunction with the rules set forth by event organizer the European Broadcasting Union, Tel Aviv was immediately announced as the location for Eurovision 2019. Unfortunately, pro-Palestinian activists, spurred on by the group Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), began putting forth their calls for a boycott of the event and any associated advertisers.
Celebrities and Entertainment Executives Respond to Boycott
After several years of seeing celebrities trying to inject politics into special events such as the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards, an increasing number of people in the entertainment industry are starting to press back. It is becoming a disturbing trend to witness activists trying desperately to inject politics into what should be celebratory events dedicated to the amazing talent that comes across the world’s stages and screens every year.
This is what inspired more than 100 VIPs from the entertainment industry to denounce the boycott via a signed letter. Among the high profile celebrities to sign their names to the letter were talent competition judge Sharon Osbourne (Britain’s Got Talent) and Rock’n Roll legend Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss.
In the letter that admonishes the call for a boycott, a statement in part read, “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 letter itself was created and circulated by the non-profit organization Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) in response to what the group called “an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition.” The letter would go on to say, “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.”
While the grand finals were being held on May 18, 2019, Madonna was in Tel Aviv to perform live on stage during the event. After receiving pressure from protesters to cancel her appearance, Madonna had this to say: “I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.”
Another individual with a vested interest in this year’s Eurovision event being held in Tel Aviv was last year’s winner. At a recent meeting of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem, Ms. Barzilai offered this about the proposed boycott: “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.” adding, “For people to boycott light is spreading darkness. It’s the exact opposite thing.”
The BDS Responds
Along with BDS’ calls for the boycott came pressure from other celebrities for the BBC to cancel televising the event. Among the politically minded people calling for the cancellation were avid anti-Semitic activists Roger Waters and Ken Loach along with musician and Rock legend Peter Gabriel, designer Vivienne Westwood, and actor/actress Julie Christie.
And the Winner is…
In spite of the controversy surrounding the event, everything went off without a hitch. When the winner was finally announced based on fan voting, Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands stood alone on the stage as the winner of Eurovision 2019. His song for the finals was the Power ballad “Arcade”. In keeping with tradition, Eurovision 2020 will have a decided Dutch flavor as The Netherlands will be playing host.