Palestinians condemn Eurovision hypocrisy, greenwashing of ethnic cleansing

"Israel Calling" participants will literally cover up the ethnic cleansing of Indigenous Palestinians

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) – a founding member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest entity in Palestinian society that is leading the global BDS movement – condemns the blatantly political double standards and brazen hypocrisy of Eurovision organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). We also condemn the contest’s complicity in whitewashing Israel’s ethnic cleansing and apartheid against Indigenous Palestinians.

Eurovision pre-party “Israel Calling” will see the majority of contestants literally covering up the Nakba (catastrophe), by planting trees over the ruins of Palestinian villages that were ethnically cleansed in 1948 by Israeli militias and whose inhabitants were never allowed to return.

The new Israeli government is the most racist, fundamentalist, sexist and homophobic in its history. Following a pogrom against the occupied West Bank town of Huwara, a senior government minister – a self-declared “fascist homophobe” – called for it to be “erased” by the state. Far from seeking to distance the contest from this genocidal incitement and violence, the EBU continues to reward the far-right Israeli apartheid regime with participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Immediately following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the EBU booted Russia from the contest, stating that “the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute”. Soon after, it suspended Russia broadcasters as members. In stark contrast, EBU executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand consistently defended apartheid Israel’s hosting of the contest in 2019. Sand, who oversees Eurovision, even claimed that “the best way to introduce Israel to the world is to do Eurovision without any politics involved”.

By sanctioning Russia for its then days-old invasion of Ukraine, while shielding apartheid Israel from accountability despite its decades-old regime of oppression against Palestinians, Eurovision organisers the EBU display utterly hypocritical, racist and colonial disregard for Palestinian life.

Compounding this double standard and shameful hypocrisy, the “Israel Calling” Eurovision pre-party will feature contestants planting trees over the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages in the so-called Eurovision Forest, part of the European Forest within the Eshtaol Forest outside occupied Jerusalem. The Eshtaol Forest was planted to hide the ruins of Indigenous Palestinian villages Islin, Ishwa, Beit Mahsir and Beit Susin, formerly home to thousands of Palestinians, until they were violently expelled by Israeli militias and barred from returning by racist laws.

Instead of rewarding Israel’s far-right apartheid regime with macabre tree-planting ceremonies over the scattered fragments of our communities that were systematically destroyed within living memory, Eurovision organisers the EBU should suspend Israel from the contest until its system of oppression has been dismantled, as leading human rights organisations have called for.

We are proud that the campaign to boycott Israel’s 2019 hosting of Eurovision in apartheid Tel Aviv denied the EBU and the Israeli government their propaganda whitewash. Well over 100 LGBTQ+ organisations, hundreds of leading artists, and millions of people supported the boycott. Blanket mainstream media coverage gave prominence to BDS, labelling the contest “the most political” Eurovision ever. Only a fraction of expected visitors turned up. The word most-tweeted alongside Israel's official Eurovision hashtag, aside from “Israel”, was “apartheid”. 

We call on supporters not just of Palestinian rights but of common decency to pressure Eurovision to end this horrifying colonial hypocrisy, by suspending apartheid Israel. 


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