Roger Waters leads call to boycott Eurovision

At least 17 countries have already confirmed participating next year.

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September 9, 2018 00:43
2 minute read.
FILE PHOTO: British rock star Roger Waters walks along the Israeli barrier in Bethlehem

FILE PHOTO: British rock star Roger Waters walks along the Israeli barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (photo credit: REUTERS/AHMAD MEZHIR/FILE PHOTO)

 
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The host city for next year’s Eurovision has yet to be announced, but a slew of artists – led by Roger Waters – are already calling for its boycott.

In a letter published in The Guardian on Friday, more than 100 musicians, actors, writers and more called for countries to not attend the 2019 contest.

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“We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel,” the artists wrote. “Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights.”

The authors said the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) should “cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record.”

Longtime BDS activist and former Pink Floyd frontman Waters signed the letter, as did other predictable names like British director Ken Loach and musician Brian Eno. Also appearing on the list were actress Alia Shawkat, known for her roles in Arrested

Development and Transparent; and Charlie McGettigan, the 1994 Eurovision winner from Ireland. Six of the names of the letter were Israelis, including Yonatan Shapira – a musician, former IAF pilot and conscientious objector who was immortalized in a popular Aya Corem song.

While the EBU was slated to announce the host city last week, it has delayed the decision by at least several days. An EBU spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that “Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have both submitted extremely strong bids which meet the needs of the contest. We are examining the proposals carefully in order to choose the best overall location for next year’s event.”

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But even without that decision, at least 17 countries have already confirmed their participation in the Eurovision contest in Israel next year – including the Muslim-majority Azerbaijan. The other countries who have stated their intentions to take part next year, according to ESCToday.com, are Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Malta, Germany, Serbia, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia.

The public broadcasters in Ireland and Iceland have faced the most extensive calls within their countries to pull out of next year’s competition. The Ireland public broadcaster did not respond to a request for comment last month.

Felix Bergsson, of Iceland’s RUV, told the Post last month that Iceland “will as usual announce the decision regarding participation in ESC in September.”

Shortly after Israel’s win at the Eurovision earlier this year, an RUV spokesman told the Post that Iceland will likely follow the decision of the other Nordic countries. With Denmark, Sweden and Norway confirmed, it would be no surprise to see Iceland participating in Israel next year.

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