Helen Mirren among celebs endorsing Israel’s Eurovision bid

Israel won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Portugal.

British actress Dame Helen Mirren and Culture Club lead singer Boy George were amongst some 400 celebrities to sign a letter on February 14 calling for Israel’s continued inclusion at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, The Independent reported. 

Over recent years, there has been debate on whether the Middle Eastern state should be allowed to take part or not due to it’s collection of international law breaches. 

The controversy surrounding it has erupted this year given Israel’s massacre in Gaza where around 29,000 have been murdered since the beginning of October and there are fears among the international community that the Strip’s most southern city, Rafah, could face a full-blown invasion. 

The contest will take place in Sweden, last year’s victors, in May and the organisers have said that Israel will participate. It was recently announced that 20-year-old Eden Golan would be their representative. 

Those calling for Israel’s exclusion have pointed out the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) , which owns and runs Eurovision, double standards given that Russia was quickly given the boot in 2022 following its ongoing invasion of Ukraine however is ignoring Israel’s historic oppression of Palestinians.  

The 2019 edition sparked backlash as it was hosted in Tel Aviv. The Icelandic representatives famously brandished Palestinian scarves and flags in protest.

The Creative Community for Peace letter read, “We have been shocked and disappointed to see some members of the entertainment community calling for Israel to be banished from the contest for responding to the greatest massacre of Jews (October 7 attack) since the Holocaust. 

“We believe that unifying events such as singing competitions are crucial to help bridge our cultural divides and unite people of all backgrounds through their shared love of music.” 

READ: American porn star turns up the heat over Gaza genocide

Great Britain’s representative this year voiced his displeasure at Israel being allowed to perform in May. 

Years and Years frontman Olly Alexander, who is openly gay, signed a letter by LGBT rights activist group Voices 4 London calling Israel an apartheid state as well as accusing it of genocide. 

The letter stated, “We are watching a genocide take place in real time. Death overflows from our phone screens and into our hearts.

“And, as a queer community, we cannot sit idly by while the Israeli Government continues to wipe out entire lineages of Palestinian families. We once said, ‘silence equals death’. Now is not the time to be silent. 

“We cannot untangle these recent tragedies from a violent history of occupation.  

“Current events simply are an escalation of the state of Israel’s apartheid regime, which acts to ethnically cleanse the land.” 

Once it was revealed that the 33-year-old had endorsed the message, the governing Conservative Party as well as the so-called Campaign Against Antisemitism called for the BBC, the country’s state broadcaster, to cut ties with him. 

Human rights organisations worldwide, including Israeli group B’Tselem, have repeatedly criticised Israel for practicing a system of apartheid akin to South Africa until the early 1990s. 

The Independent/BBC

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