UK stars push for Eurovision to relocate from Israel

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


  1. It would be an extremely bad precedence to set , if they started banning countries from hosting, when they have won the right to fairly. No other questions should be entered into, or that would only be the start of unnecessary division, which only would hurt such a artistic and creative event. No country would not have a skeleton in its closet, that a jealous competitor couldn’t pick on. EG —–Obviously Spain couldn’t host it till they get rid of Bull Fighting.
    No, it is a music event and music is something that should always brings people together, no debate.

  2. Politically, I agree with those calling for the boycott. But there’s no point letting Israel compete in Eurovision if they can’t then host on the rare occasions they win.

    • Israel’s broadcaster KAN is a full-fledged member of the EBU thus they’re more than qualifed to take part (as are any broadcaster member in North Africa and the Middle East). And whoever wins the contest have first right of refusal to host the contest.

      The only way their hosting rights could get taken away by the EBU if they found no assurance of safety, among other things. Given Israel’s past hostings, they’re more than prepared.

  3. Holding international events, such as Eurovision and other contests, competitions and tournaments tend to have better peace outcomes as host nations receive international attention and welcome foreigners, including foreign media. It puts a spotlight on the host nations to solve issues that receive negative publicity. Boycotts of events have happened in the past, however, it’s not a positive way of dealing with issues as it can create diplomatic tensions and loss of productivity, employment and opportunities for those who were not to blame.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.