UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) and the Wiesenthal Centre have written to the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, to prevent politicization of the May 14-18 contest in Tel Aviv.
UKLFI urged the disqualification of Iceland’s band “Hatari” (“Hate” in English), since it contravened both the spirit and rules of Eurovision. Hatari has breached Rule 2.6, which states that: “Eurovision is a non-political event,” in three different ways:
- Hatari has made clear that its performance will be a political statement, and will oppose the Israeli government. They have publicized their protest and created a politicized atmosphere;
- Their song explicitly opposes capitalism which is an entirely political position;
- The lyrics of the song, which state “Hate will prevail, Europe will crumble, a web of lies…”brings Eurovision and the EBU “into disrepute”. The song is an anti-European, anti-cultural, hate-filled exercise in nihilism.
Article 2.6 is explicit: “The ESC is a non-political event. All Participating Broadcasters, including the Host Broadcaster, shall ensure that all necessary steps are undertaken within their respective Delegations and teams in order to make sure that the ESC shall in no case be politicized and/or instrumentalized. All Participating Broadcasters, including the Host Broadcaster, shall ensure that no organization, institution, political cause or other cause… shall be promoted, featured or mentioned directly or indirectly… The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Shows, the ESC as such or the EBU into disrepute. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted during the ESC. No swearing or other unacceptable language shall be allowed in the lyrics or in the performances of the songs.”
The letter to the ESC was also shared with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) President Jean-Paul Philippot and Director-General Noel Curran. Dr Shimon Samuels , Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, drew attention to a series of attacks on the ESC monitored by the Wiesenthal Centre since the last contest in Lisbon:
– One week after Netta Barzilai’s May 2018 victory, Dutch singer Sanne Wallis de Vries reportedly sang, on Netherlands TV BNNVARA a parody of “Toy”, criticized for apparently mocking kosher food and repeating antisemitic stereotypes of “Jews and money”;
– In September 2018, several European figures from the art world called for a boycott of the ESC 2019;
– In the same month, Roger Waters – co-founder of Pink Floyd and notorious agitator of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel – called on the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) “to cancel Israel’s holding of the ESC altogether and to hold it in another country”;
– In January 2019, fifty British showpeople called on BBC not to broadcast it;
– Their French counterparts invaded the “Destination Eurovision” stage of France 2 television, demanding a boycott;
– A poll on BBC television regarding British participation in Eurovision 2019 was, apparently, removed from its website due to antisemitic content;
– Iceland’s “Hatari” entry (“Hate” in English) as profiled above.
– Above all, the song contest will coincide with what the Palestinians call “Nakba Day” – marking the birth of Israel as a “catastrophe” – which can only lead to further incitement.
Sam Green, director of UKLFI commented: “National Broadcasters must understand that participation in Eurovision is a privilege to be earned not a right and that they must not allow entirely unsuitable entries which represent fundamental breaches of the Eurovision Rules to reach the final”.
Dr Shimon Samuels, Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, said: “We call on the ESC and EBU to invoke its own Rules to ensure that the Tel Aviv Contest be an expression of cultural harmony and unity as illustrated by the song of Israel’s Eurovision 2018 winner, Netta Barzilai.”
UKLFI is a voluntary association of lawyers combatting anti-Israel and antisemitic activity. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is a global human rights organisation researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context.