Eurovision boycott demands over Israel's involvement

By Isaac M December 19, 2023

Icelandic musicians have demanded the country boycotts the Eurovision Song Contest unless Israel is banned from taking part.

The Association of Composers and Lyricists of Iceland (FTT), which represents artists in the country, says it wants the country’s national broadcaster RUV to halt its participation in the show if Israel remains in the competition.

It echoes similar calls from 2022, when many nations demanded Russia be banned over its invasion of Ukraine.

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Hamas killed 1,200 people and kidnapped hundreds more in cross-border attacks on 7 October, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel has since killed more than 18,800 Palestinians, 70% of whom were women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

The FTT said: “We all have a duty to take a stand against war and the killing of civilians and innocent children.

“We always have the choice not to put our name to such things, whether we are individuals or state institutions.

“We owe it to the nations that act with military force to not share with them in an event that is always characterised by joy and optimism.”

RUV told Sky News a demonstration was due to take place outside its offices on Monday afternoon over the issue.

Iceland has seen relative success in the contest in recent years, and many have suggested the country’s Dadi Freyr would have won the 2020 contest, had it not been cancelled. He came fourth the following year.

A Palestinian child looks on at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 17, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
A Palestinian child in the Gaza Strip, where at least 18,800 people have been killed in Israeli strikes, according to the Hamas-run health ministry

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Pro-Palestinian activists and groups have also called for a boycott, while Ireland’s RTE is also reported to have received hundreds of emails asking it to boycott next year’s contest.

Israel came third in the 2023 contest, with Noa Kriel’s dance-pop tune Unicorn. Kriel had previously served as a soldier in the Israel Defence Forces.

Russia was ultimately banned from the competition, with Ukraine winning later that year with Kalush Orchestra, leading to the 2023 edition to be held in Liverpool.

Sky News has contacted the European Broadcast Union (EBU), the show’s organisers, along with Israeli public broadcaster Kan, for comment.

The EBU, an alliance of public service broadcasters, said in a statement to Irish online newspaper The Journal: “It is a competition for broadcasters – not governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the Contest for 50 years.

“EBU is aligned with other international organisations that have similarly maintained their inclusive stance towards Israeli participants in major competitions at this time.”

Both Iceland and Israel have confirmed their participation for next year’s contest in Sweden, but have not selected entries.

The BBC revealed on Saturday that Olly Alexander of pop band Years and Years will represent the UK at next year’s contest.

The UK, represented by Mae Muller, came second to last in the 2023 contest in Liverpool, with Sweden’s Loreen winning for a second time.


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