Eurovision 2024 : The “clash” among artists regarding Israel’s participation

Sharon Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Boy George, Helen Mirren, and others demand the Israeli singer to be admitted, while over 2000 Swedish and Finnish artists, including Robyn, First Aid Kit, and Fever Ray, have instead requested her exclusion.

It is known that non-European states also participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. One of the most well-known cases is that of Israel, which has been participating in the competition since 1973 and has won it four times. In January, while the attack on Gaza continued and the death toll rose to over 25,000 (estimate at the time), around 2,400 artists, initially Finnish and then Swedish, requested Israel to be excluded from the competition, which this year will be held in Malmö, with the final scheduled for May 11th.

“The fact that countries that violate humanitarian law are called to participate in international cultural events trivializes violations of international law and makes the suffering of victims invisible,” read the open letter from Swedish artists, signed among others by Robyn, First Aid Kit, and Fever Ray. “Allowing Israel to participate not only undermines the spirit of the competition but also the very idea of public service. It is also a signal to governments that they can commit war crimes without any consequences.”

Even before this stance, the Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists had asked its members not to participate in ESC 2024 if Israel were to be involved. A group of Members of the European Parliament, including those from the Spanish party Podemos, also participated in the campaign to prevent Israel from participating in ESC 2024 – as was done with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine when Russian television channels were expelled from the EBU. In the letter addressed to the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, they ask to exclude Israel because its participation would equate to whitewashing the conscience from “ethnic cleansing and war crimes committed in Palestine.”

- Advertisement -

Since the early protests, the European Broadcasting Union has responded that “we understand the concerns and deep convictions about the current conflict in the Middle East, but we are committed to ensuring that the Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event, where artists and broadcasters compete, not governments. Our governing bodies, led by the Executive Committee, have reviewed the list of participants for the 2024 edition and have agreed that the Israeli public broadcaster KAN meets all the competition rules for this year and can participate, as it has done for the past 50 years.”

Now, about 400 artists, not just musicians, and many Americans, including Helen Mirren, Liev Schreiber, Gene Simmons, Scooter Braun, Boy George, Julianna Margulies, Sharon Osbourne, Debra Messing, and Diane Warren, have signed an open letter opposing the Swedish stance. It was disseminated by the non-profit organization Creative Community for Peace and requests that Israel be admitted to the competition as usual.

“We were shocked and disappointed to see people from the entertainment world calling for Israel to be banned from the competition for responding to the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust,” the letter reads. “Under the cover of thousands of rockets indiscriminately launched at the civilian population, Hamas has killed and kidnapped innocent men, women, and children.”

“We believe that unifying events like song contests are crucial to helping mend cultural divisions and unite people from all backgrounds through their common love for music.” Those calling for Israel’s exclusion, the 400 write, “are undermining the spirit of the competition, turning it from a celebration of unity into a political tool.”

Israel’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 is twenty-year-old Eden Golan.

- Advertisement -

Related Articles