Eurovision 2024: Efforts to boycott Israel peak amid double standards

Eurovision 2024: Efforts to boycott Israel peak amid double standards

This week, the focus is on the Eurovision Song Contest as it dominates Sweden’s third largest city, Malmo. More than 150 million people worldwide tune in to the annual competition, which organizers say is apolitical. This year’s event, however, may be far from that.

Israel is poised to take part amid protests and calls for a boycott over its war on Gaza that has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians. Ahead of Eurovision, more than 1,000 Swedish artists demanded a ban on Israel, but their call was rejected. Israel participated with Hurricane – the song was previously titled October Rain, a reference to the October 7 attacks in Israel, which the organizers considered too political.

More than 20% of artists scheduled to perform at Eurovision have dropped out in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Among them are the hip-hop duo Medina, and Magnus Carlsson, who is a former member of Alcazar, one of Sweden’s most successful music groups.

The competition to allow Israel to participate has sparked several protests, but apart from the expected pro-Palestinian event in Sweden, there is a series of planned Koran burnings, putting the Swedish authorities on high alert. The arson tends to drain security resources and although the Swedish government itself has condemned the act as Islamophobic, the Foreign Ministry added that Sweden has a “constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, speech and demonstration”.

The protests have also forced organizers to rethink the usual events that take place during Eurovision week. The Eurovision Street event, which usually has a happy atmosphere, has been cancelled.

Alternative activities

The group calling for a boycott made it clear that they don’t want to just stop Eurovision from happening. They plan to flood the city with alternative activities.

The Ship to Gaza, a ship that is part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, a network of organizations aiming to lift the Gaza blockade, will dock in the city for a week and host several family-friendly events, including live music, face painting and poetry. reading.

In solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza and as part of the protest, an alternative music event called Falastinvision will be held on the last day of Eurovision on May 11 in Malmo.

Double standard

On February 25, 2022, just one day after Moscow’s military launched a massive invasion of Ukraine, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces Eurovision, banned Russia from the contest. Russia’s entry “would bring the competition into disrepute”, the body said. Many have protested what they see as a double standard, given Israel’s escalating military incursions and attacks on Gaza.

The participants of the Eurovision Song Contest can carry and display the flags of the 37 participating countries, including Israel. The only exceptions are the rainbow and the pride flag. Palestinian flags and pro-Palestinian symbols at the fair were also banned.

Israel’s actions were mocked on stage

Edan Golan, the Israeli singer was mocked on stage during a dress rehearsal that took place earlier today. During Hurricane’s first performance in front of an audience, some people in the audience disagreed with Israel’s participation, chanting ‘Free Palestine!’

In social media footage taken by those in attendance, jeers and chants could be heard throughout Edan’s performance, almost drowning him out completely. The police present inside the Malmö Arena immediately intervened and stopped these people.

An X user shared a video of the harassment, writing, “Israel gets booed at Eurovision. We like to see it.”

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