Politicians criticize Eurovision demands

EBU tells government that all participants and delegates must be allowed to freely enter Israel

Netta Barzilai, Eurovision winner 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netta Barzilai, Eurovision winner 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Several ministers on Tuesday criticized a letter the European Broadcasting Union sent to the State of Israel ahead of the 2019 Eurovision.
In the letter, which was first reported on by Channel 2 News on Monday evening, the EBU stated that Israel must accept all visitors for the contest regardless of their political views; freedom of the press and freedom of expression must be allowed for all participants; rehearsals must be allowed to take place on Saturday; and public broadcaster KAN must be given total independence.
On Tuesday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the letter was out of line.
“I don’t understand how the EBU has the gall to set these ridiculous demands,” he told Army Radio. “Every democratic nation has the right to decide which foreigners enter its territory, and those who seek to harm it – of course Israel won’t allow them in.” Erdan, who has worked to ban BDS supporters from entering Israel, said he hopes “the prime minister will not accept these delusional conditions.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin took a slightly more measured approach.
“I think the EBU’s demands need to be the same as they are for any other nation,” Levin told Army Radio on Tuesday morning. “If they’re different, then it is definitely unacceptable. If they’re the same, we need to find a way to work with it.” The tourism minister added that the Eurovision is an incredible opportunity to present Israel to the world “and I hope that KAN will make use of our capabilities in the Tourism Ministry.”
The EBU told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “this is a typical letter we send every year, regardless of country, to help ensure the smooth running of the Eurovision Song Contest.”
And a KAN spokeswoman told the Post on Tuesday that the letter from the EBU had nothing to do with them, and “was similar to what has been sent to every host country.”
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi lawmaker Moti Yogev told Galei Israel Radio that if the contest cannot be held without violating Shabbat “then it should stay in Europe.”
Meretz Party leader Tamar Zandberg told 103FM on Tuesday that Israel wants to show the world “that we are a free nation without thought police.” The need to allow people to enter the country no matter their political views “is something that should already be obvious,” she said.
In an interview with KAN last week, Eurovision executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand was asked about the series of controversies that have surrounded next year’s competition in Israel.
“It’s actually the same every year,” Sand said at the time. “It always creates a lot of attention in the winning country, there are a lot of people positioning themselves, who would like to take part in it and have a statement about it – and all this is quite natural.”
A spokeswoman for KAN also told the Post on Tuesday that the announcement of the host city – Jerusalem or Tel Aviv – would likely be within 48 hours. Though Israel Hayom reported Tuesday morning that the EBU has already decided to host the competition in Tel Aviv, the spokeswoman dismissed the report as “baseless rumors.”