Miriam Margolyes, Maxine Peake, Alexei Sayle, Peter Gabriel, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Julie Christie, Roger Waters are among 50 stars urging for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 to be relocated from Israel.
Citing the country’s “systematic violation of Palestinian human rights”, the group of artists have called for the BBC to press Eurovision to move the competition from Tel Aviv.
The letter comes a week before Eurovision: You Decide, the show where the public will vote for the act who will represent the UK.
“The European Broadcasting Union chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem – but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces,” their letter, published in The Guardian, said.
“The BBC is bound by its charter to ‘champion freedom of expression’. It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.”
But the BBC is rejecting the push saying Eurovision was “not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign”.
A statement given by the broadcaster said: “The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons.
“Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC.”
Last year The Australian Greens raised the question of Eurovision boycotts by SBS in Jerusalem due to recent violence in Gaza.
Then-managing director Michael Ebeid said Eurovision started 62 years ago post-World War II to reunify Europe.
“The whole point of Eurovision is to forget politics, forget all of that and unite communities and countries together in the spirit of song, in the spirit of celebration, in the spirit of culture. It transcends things you’re talking about,” he said.
“Israel has won before, Israel has hosted before and it in the spirit of unity and bringing people together and cultures together I can’t imagine that we would not televise Eurovision next year.”
Eurovision: Australia Decides airs Saturday February 9 on SBS.
Source: Radio Times