Eurovision: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat or Haifa?

Kan kicks off its search for the Eurovision host city - Jerusalem chief rabbi asks Regev to cancel contest in Israel over Shabbat desecration

June 25, 2018 14:35
2 minute read.
Temporary logo for 2019 Eurovision in Israel

Temporary logo for 2019 Eurovision in Israel. (photo credit: COURTESY KAN)


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Kan, the Israeli public broadcaster, officially approached four cities in Israel this week and requested they submit a bid to host next year’s Eurovision competition.

On Sunday, the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation asked the country’s three largest cities – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa – as well as the popular resort city of Eilat, to present it with a detailed pitch to host the 2019 song contest.

But those four may not be the only cities in the running. A spokeswoman for Kan told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that later this week, it will publish a detailed set of criteria and invite any other cities which meet the benchmarks to submit their candidacy to host.

Kan said that its criteria for hosting will be published on its site later in the week. The European Broadcasting Union, meanwhile, has its own list of demands for any host city worldwide. Those include an indoor venue that can accommodate around 10,000 spectators, an international press center for 1,500 journalists, hotel rooms for at least 2,000 people and significant transportation infrastructure.

After a meeting in Geneva between Kan and EBU officials last week, the Eurovision’s governing body said a host city would be announced no later than September, as is the norm. Kan said on Sunday that it will be holding another meeting with the EBU in the coming weeks.

Ever since Netta Barzilai won the competition for Israel earlier this year, many Israeli officials have proclaimed that next year’s contest will be held in Jerusalem. But complaints over the city’s politicized nature – amid other concerns – have left considering the capital as a host city in doubt.

Every host broadcaster must submit at least two cities to the EBU for consideration.

Last year, Portugal submitted five potential host locations before the governing body settled on its capital Lisbon.

Last week, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern sent a letter to Culture Minister Miri Regev – who said earlier this month that if the competition isn’t in Jerusalem, it shouldn’t be in Israel – asking her not to host the contest at all.

Last month, ultra-Orthodox ex-health minister Yaakov Litzman sent Regev a letter requesting there not be any Shabbat desecration in the capital. But Stern’s letter goes a step further, requesting that the culture minister not host the competition in Israel at all. Regev, however, does not have the authority to cancel the competition.

Stern’s letter, dated June 21 and publicized on Monday, noted that hosting the competition and all of the rehearsals “will certainly include mass desecration of the Shabbat.”

Therefore, Stern wrote, “it is better for the State of Israel to give up the ‘privilege’ of hosting this show if it will include Shabbat desecration... anyone who values the state should also value the Shabbat.”

Meanwhile, Kan is focused not just on planning next year’s competition - but also on winning it. Although the Keshet program Next Star: Eurovision has selected Israel’s contestant for the past five years, it may not be the case this year. On Sunday, Kan opened up a call for submissions from televised singing competitions looking to select next year’s competitor. Next Star: Eurovision can submit its candidacy, as can any other show that airs in primetime and has already been produced in Israel or in the world.

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