Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 - 21 of Av, 5779

Should EBU disqualify Iceland’s Hatari band of Tel Aviv’s Eurovision Song Contest ?

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LONDON—Two groups, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI)  and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, have urged the disqualification of Iceland’s band “Hatari” of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Tel Aviv next month, to prevent politicization of the event.

The song contest, which will see the participation of 41 countries, will take place 14-18 May.

In a letter to the Eurovision Song Contest executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, the two groups said the Icelandic band  ”contravened both the spirit and rules of Eurovision by making clear that its performance will be a political statement and will oppose the Israeli government.”

Hatari has made headlines over its pledge to use the position to protest Israel and its belief that the country shouldn’t be hosting the competition at all.

‘’Hatari (which means Hate) has publicized their protest and created a politicized atmosphere,’’ UKLFI and Wiesental Center stated, adding that the lyric of their song . which state “Hate will prevail, Europe will crumble, a web of lies…”, Brings  Eurovision and the European Broadcasting Authority (EBU° “into disrepute”. ‘’The song is an anti-European, anti-cultural, hate-filled exercise in nihilism,’’ they said.

The letter to the ESC was also shared with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) President Jean-Paul Philippot and Director-General Noel Curran.

Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations,  drew  attention to a series of attacks on the ESC monitored by the Wiesenthal Centre since the last Eurovision Song Contest Contest in Lisbon in 2018 which saw Israel’s Netta Barzilai song ”TOY” winning the competition:

– One week after Netta Barzilai’s victory, Dutch singer Sanne Wallis de Vries reportedly sang, on Netherlands TV BNNVARA a parody of “Toy”, criticized for apparently mocking kosher food and repeating antisemitic stereotypes of “Jews and money”;

– In September 2018, several European figures from the art world called for a boycott of the ESC 2019;

– In the same month, Roger Waters – co-founder of Pink Floyd and notorious agitator of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel   – called on the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) “to cancel Israel’s holding of the ESC altogether and to hold it in another country”;

– In January 2019, fifty British showpeople called on BBC not to broadcast it;

– Their French counterparts invaded the “Destination Eurovision” stage of France 2 television, demanding a boycott;

– A poll on BBC television regarding British participation in Eurovision 2019 was, apparently, removed from its website due to antisemitic content;

– Iceland’s “Hatari” entry (“Hate” in English) as profiled above.

– Above all, the song contest will coincide with what the Palestinians call “Nakba Day” – marking the birth of Israel as a “catastrophe” – which can only lead to further incitement.

Sam Green, director of UKLFI commented:  “National Broadcasters must understand that participation in Eurovision is a privilege to be earned not a right and that they must not allow entirely unsuitable entries which represent fundamental breaches of the Eurovision Rules to reach the final”.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 News earlier this monnth  the Iceland band appeared to say it would abide by the competition rules.

“I don’t think, as of now, there will be a Palestinian flag on the stage,” the band said.  “It’s clear that all of the songs that will be performed on stage in Tel Aviv will in fact offend the sensibilities of many people.”

A spokesman for the EBU has told The Jerusalem Post that it is fully expecting Hatari to follow its regulations.

“Iceland’s EBU Member RUV is very much aware of rules and is looking forward to competing in Tel Aviv in Ma,’’ a spokesman said, adding :  “The Eurovision Song Contest is a long running non-political entertainment event… the EBU and the host broadcaster take all necessary steps to safeguard the non-political character of the event.”

The Eurovision Song Contest is expected to be viewed around the world by 200 million people.

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