UK chief rabbi says call to move Eurovision harms peace

'Whereas peacemakers seek dialogue and common ground, for more than a decade the BDS movement has pursued a campaign of division and demonization,' says Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

February 3, 2019 05:06
1 minute read.
Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, addresses the Limmud Conference 2013.

Ephraim Mirvis 370. (photo credit: Flix’ n’ Pix)


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UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has spoken out against 50 artists whose letter to the BBC last week called for moving this year's Eurovision Song Contest from Israel to a different country.

In an interview with The Daily Mail on Sunday, Mirvis criticized the letter and said that the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and its supporters don't advance peace.

"Whereas peacemakers seek dialogue and common ground, for more than a decade the BDS movement has pursued a campaign of division and demonization," Mirvis told the newspaper, adding, "Calls for the Eurovision Song Contest to be moved from Israel will ultimately harm, and not help, the cause of peace."

In a letter in The Guardian published last Tuesday, 50 artists - including Roger Waters, musician Peter Gabriel, designer Vivienne Westwood, actor Julie Christie, writer Mike Leigh and director Ken Loach - appealed to the BBC to use its influence with the European Broadcasting Union to “press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against... freedom are not being committed.”

In response, the BBC said it was not interested in politics and that the broadcaster will be taking part in the Eurovision in Tel Aviv.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign,” the statement read. “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 public service broadcaster added. “The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC.”

Amy Spiro contributed to this article.

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