PA: Israel Exploiting Eurovision to Consolidate Colonialism; Protest Tonight in Tel Aviv vs. Gaza Siege

The Foreign Ministry of the Palestinian Authority (PA) called Saturday, May 12, for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest, to remove shots of Jerusalem from the videos promoting this week’s competition, as the true venue of the international song contest is Tel Aviv. In letters it wrote to the EBU, the PA accused Israel of “propaganda” leading up to the two semi-finals to be held today, Tuesday, and on Thursday, and the finals scheduled to take place on Saturday night, May 18. Tel Aviv was picked to host the 2019 event following the victory of Israeli singer Netta Barzilai last year.

Breaking the Silence poster hung throughout Tel Aviv towards the Eurovision competition

Breaking the Silence poster hung throughout Tel Aviv towards the Eurovision competition

Israel’s Kan public broadcaster aired a clip last Friday aimed at tourists traveling to the country for the Eurovision contest, in which there is a shot of East Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound, referred to as the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent several letters calling on the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to withdraw any promotional materials for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest filmed in the occupied city of East Jerusalem, to demonstrate respect for the rights of the Palestinian people and international law.

The ministry also called on the EBU not to allow Israel, the occupying power in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to exploit this global event to whitewash the colonial reality in Palestine or to cover up its practices of discrimination and persecution against the Palestinian people.

“The EBU has the power to influence global public opinion, and Israel, the occupying power, is exploiting that by using the contest to entrench its colonial occupation by effectively normalizing the global acceptance of its unlawful conduct. The promotional material published in the context of the Eurovision contest and approved by EBU, is unacceptable due to the cultural role it plays in normalizing the occupation in European and worldwide public opinion,” the letters stated.

The Ministry explained that by accepting the occupation authorities’ contest propaganda material, which wipes the State of Palestine from the map, the EBU is implicitly recognizing and supporting Israel’s illegal policies which systematically violate international and human rights law, including the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, in contradiction to the European Union’s foreign policy.

In this context, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that “the message of art and the message of Eurovision should be incompatible with the practices of colonialism and occupation. The EBU must reject all cynical attempts to politicize the Eurovision Song Contest, including the occupying power’s exploitation of the contest to normalize its unlawful conduct.”

Tel Aviv Protest Tonight against the Siege of Gaza and Public Apathy

A demonstration against the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip will be held tonight in Tel Aviv on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest, starting at 7 pm, at the Habima Square.

Among the organizers of the protest: Hadash, The Communist Party of Israel, Young Communist League of Israel (Banki-Shabiba), Mesarvot, Academy for Equality, Another Voice, Meretz – Fight the Occupation Forum, Amnesty International – Israel, Ta’ayush, Parents Circle Families Forum, Coalition of Women for Peace, All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective and Combatants for Peace.

In a statement on Facebook, the protest’s organizers wrote : “One year ago, as hospitals in Gaza were overflowing with wounded protesters, the masses in Tel Aviv celebrated Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision victory. This year we will not take part in this absurd and cynical performance. We refuse to continue ‘business as usual,’ while less than 100km away, millions of people on both sides of the fence pay the price of our apathy. On May 14, marking one year after 64 protestors were shot dead during the Great March of Return protests in Gaza, we will take to the streets to demand an end to the siege of Gaza and a better future for all of us.”

To Realize the Dream, You Must First Witness the Reality

During the entire week of the Eurovision, the Breaking the Silence movement will be conducting daily tours from Tel Aviv to Hebron in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The movement has written: “You can take on an important role in supporting Israelis and Palestinians who are working towards ending the occupation, so get started by seeing the reality for yourself. The tour is led by soldiers who broke their silence about their military service in the West Bank and Gaza. The tour explores the harsh consequences of the policy of separation, the heavy military presence in the city and will include meeting with Palestinian residents.” Daily tours leave Tel Aviv at 10:00 and return by 17:00.

Breaking the Silence activists hung huge posters in Tel Aviv calling on tourists arriving in Israel to participate in the organization’s tours of Hebron. On the movement’s Facebook page they wrote: “We have to dare to dream about freedom – even from the occupation … It is our duty as Israelis and former soldiers to show how we invite the celebrants of the Eurovision Song Contest to celebrate at night but to open their eyes during the day.”

The organization went on to write: “The slogan of the Eurovision Song Contest is Dare to Dream, and an hour from Tel Aviv millions of Palestinians under military rule dream of freedom from the occupation. This is the sign we hung this morning at Ayalon Freeway, inviting the thousands of tourists who have come here to see the Eurovision competition.”

Tuesday evening (May 14) protest on Facebook:

For more details about Breaking the Silence’s tours this week to Hebron, and to register: