Monday, August 20, 2018

Israeli singer wins Eurovision 2018, campaign against it continues


By Annelies Verbeek - May 17, 2018
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [BDS]

Israeli singer Netta Barzilai has won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, an annual competition in which European countries delegate singers to compete with each other. 

Nationals of participating countries can vote for the best songs. The winning country organises the contest the following year. Israeli ministers described their victory as “great PR for Israel,” while BDS activists vowed to continue campaigning to expose Israel as an apartheid state.
 
A couple of months before the win, Israeli BDS group Boycott from Within, had staged a campaign called “zero points to the song of apartheid Israel”. The group encouraged residents of participating countries to vote zero points for Israel.
 
After Israel’s win was announced, the group posted a statement on their Facebook page, saying they “now have a year to show the true face of Israeli apartheid.” The activists called on people to “stay tuned for a big campaign.”
 
A social media campaign “Boycott Eurovision 2019” was started soon after Israel’s win was announced.
 
Despite its geographical location, Israel is allowed to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest because it is a member of the European Broadcasting Union. The 2018 victory marked the fourth time for Israel to win the contest.
 
Barzilai’s win means that the contest will be organised in Israel next year. The location will most likely be Jerusalem, as this was also the location after previous Israeli victories. Boycott From Within called Jerusalem “a prime example of Israeli apartheid.”
 
After winning the semi-final, Netta Barzilai was interviewed by a Hebrew news channel. She claimed “we did something great for Israeli hasbara,” (Hebrew for 'explanation,’ but can also mean 'propaganda’).
 
Zionist Union Leader Avi Gabay said that victory and organisation of Eurovision 2019 in Jerusalem is “the best PR they could hope for.” Israeli culture minister Miri Regev called the win “a large present for Israel, celebrating 70 years of independence, and to Jerusalem, celebrating 51 years since it was liberated and united.”
 
The Palestine Monitor spoke with Ronnie Barkan. He and a fellow Israeli BDS activist Adi Shoshberger protested Israel’s participation in Eurovision at the location of the contest in Lisbon. Barkan claimed he was under heavy surveillance for several days, and to have been detained twice for raising a banner that called for 'zero points for Israeli apartheid.’
 
Barkan emphasised Israel’s participation in Eurovision is an attempt to “rebrand its apartheid image, while going lengths in silencing any voice which is critical of its criminal and barbaric practices.”
 
Lead photo: Wikimedia commons

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