Celebrities Defend Israel’s Right to Participate in Eurovision 2024

More than 400 celebrities and entertainment figures have signed an open letter supporting Israel’s inclusion in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, despite the calls for a boycott due to the Israel-Gaza war. The letter, organized by the non-profit group Creative Community For Peace, praises the Eurovision as a unifying event that should not be politicized or used as a tool of propaganda.

The open letter, which was released on February 14, 2024, rejects the attempts by some artists and activists to exclude Israel from the Eurovision, which will be held in Malmö, Sweden, in May. The letter says that such calls are “subverting the spirit of the Contest and turning it from a celebration of unity into a tool of politics”.

The letter also expresses solidarity with the families and supporters of the 130 Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, who were captured during the October 7, 2023 attack that killed over 360 Israelis and wounded thousands more. The letter says that the boycott campaign is “supporting the acts of Hamas, is giving a prize to terrorism and is incompatible with the values of the [European Broadcasting Union] and of the competition”.

The letter was signed by a diverse and prominent group of celebrities and entertainment figures, including actors Helen Mirren, Liev Schreiber, Debra Messing, Selma Blair, and Mayim Bialik, musicians Gene Simmons, Boy George, Diane Warren, and Sharon Osbourne, and music executive Scooter Braun, among many others.

The Boycott Campaign Demands Israel’s Ban

The open letter was a response to a previous letter signed by more than 2,000 musicians in Finland, Iceland and Sweden, who demanded Israel’s ban from the Eurovision, citing its “brutal” response to the Hamas attack and the “humanitarian disaster” in Gaza. The letter, which was published in January, said that Israel’s participation in the Eurovision “undermines” the spirit of the competition and the values of the EBU.

The letter also urged the national broadcasters of Finland, Iceland and Sweden to boycott the Eurovision and refuse to send their representatives, if Israel is not excluded. The letter said that “it is not in accordance with our values that a country that commits war crimes and continues a military occupation is given a public stage to polish its image in the name of music”.

The boycott campaign was supported by some prominent artists and activists, such as Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Ken Loach, and Naomi Klein, who have been vocal critics of Israel’s policies and actions.

The Eurovision Stands by Israel’s Inclusion

The Eurovision Song Contest, which is organized by the EBU, a consortium of public service broadcasters from across Europe and the Middle East, has stood by its decision to include Israel in the 2024 edition, despite the boycott campaign. The Eurovision said that it is a “non-political event” that is open to all the EBU members who meet the competition rules.

The Eurovision also said that Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, has been a member of the EBU for 50 years, and has participated in the contest 41 times, winning four times. The Eurovision said that Israel’s participation in the contest is based on its “geographical location and cultural affinity” with Europe, and not on its political status or situation.

The Eurovision also said that it supports the efforts of the Egyptian-led mediation to end the war in Gaza and secure the release of the hostages and prisoners on both sides. The Eurovision said that it hopes that the contest will be a “celebration of music and diversity” that will “bring people together and promote peace and understanding”.

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