Eurovision Song Contest rejects Israel ban over Gaza war

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
4 min read

Israel can compete in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, organizers said Thursday, despite calls for it to be excluded over the Gaza war like Russia was after invading Ukraine.

Petitions have been circulating calling for Israel to be kicked out of the world’s biggest live music event, which is being held in Malmo, Sweden, in May.

The European Broadcasting Union said it had conducted a review and decided Israel could participate in the kitsch annual pop extravaganza.

For the latest updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, visit our dedicated page.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political music event and a competition between public service broadcasters who are members of the EBU. It is not a contest between governments,” EBU director general Noel Curran said in a statement.

“Our governing bodies... did review the participants list for the 2024 contest and agreed that the Israeli public broadcaster KAN met all the competition rules for this year and can participate, as it has for the past 50 years.”

Israel is to take part in the second semi-final on May 9, from which 10 of the 16 contenders will progress to the grand final on May 11.

Eden Golan, 20, who grew up in Russia, will represent Israel after winning a domestic contest. Her song has yet to be announced.

Israel has qualified for every grand final since 2015.

The war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

After the attack, Israel launched a relentless military offensive that has killed at least 28,663 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.

Russia situation ‘fundamentally different’

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The following day, the EBU said including a Russian entry in that year’s contest “would bring the competition into disrepute”.

The decision was “based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU”, it said.

Curran said it was not the EBU’s place to make comparisons between wars.

“In the case of Russia, the Russian broadcasters themselves were suspended from the EBU due to their persistent breaches of membership obligations and the violation of public service values,” he said.

“The relationship between KAN and the Israeli government is fundamentally different to the relationship that exists between those Russian members and the state, with the Israeli government in recent years threatening to close down the broadcaster.”

Founded in 1950, the Geneva-based EBU is the world’s biggest public service media alliance. It has 112 member organizations in 56 countries.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Curran said the EBU was acting in line with other international organizations, such as sports federations, which have kept Israel in their competitions.

In 1998, Israel’s Dana International became the first openly transgender singer to win Eurovision.

After victories in 1978 and 1979, Israel won Eurovision for a fourth time in 2018.

Malmo is hosting the 68th edition after Swedish singer Loreen won the 2023 contest in Liverpool with the song “Tattoo”, watched by some 162 million viewers.

The 2024 event coincides with the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision victory -- Sweden’s first -- with their breakthrough hit “Waterloo”.

Read more:

Canada, Australia, New Zealand call for ceasefire in Gaza as Israel intensifies war

Israeli far-right ministers slam reported peace plan for Palestinian state

Countries sanction Israeli settlers in West Bank for violence against Palestinians

Top Content Trending