‘Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest winner has asked people not to boycott the event.
Netta Barzilai, who won the contest last year, said the event is a “festival of light”. But activists have called on people to boycott the event which is due to take place in Tel Aviv in May. They have argued that Israel is using Eurovision to cover up its abuse of Palestinian people’s rights.
Barzilai argued that people calling for a boycott are “spreading darkness”. She also claimed that they “might be going against their own beliefs” as a result. However, she pointed out that she would perform for Palestinian people if they asked her, saying:
I wasn’t invited, but if my singing could solve problems, I would go.
But in spite of this, she avoided delving too far into politics, stressing:
When I will say my political opinion, I will bring hearts apart instead of bringing them together
Criticising the boycott
Barzilai is not alone in criticising the calls for a boycott. A number of celebrities, for example, have signed a letter in support of holding Eurovision in Israel. Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) published the letter which declared “music is our shared language”. Therefore, the authors argued:
the spirit of togetherness is under attack by those 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.
Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne, Rachel Riley, and Rory Cowan are among the signatories. Cowan, an Irish actor, has previously spoken at an event hosted by the Israeli embassy in Dublin, saying “I stand with Israel”. At the same event, he also accused activists of using boycotts “as a sledgehammer against Israel”. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) described Cowan as “a well known propagandist for Israel’s apartheid regime”.
The CCFP is a front for Israeli lobby group StandWithUs, and activists have pointed out the latter’s “close ties to the Israeli government”.’