Eurovision 2024: European artists and politicians consider calls for a boycott of Israel during the competition “unacceptable”

“Politics has no place at Eurovision,” declared Friday May 10, the French Minister for Europe, Jean-Noël Barrot, who, like other European elected officials and artists, considers “unacceptable » the “pressure on artists” called for a boycott against Israel during Saturday’s Eurovision final

Eurovision 2024: European artists and politicians consider calls for a boycott of Israel during the competition “unacceptable”

“Politics has no place at Eurovision,” declared Friday May 10, the French Minister for Europe, Jean-Noël Barrot, who, like other European elected officials and artists, considers “unacceptable » the “pressure on artists” called for a boycott against Israel during Saturday’s Eurovision final.

Israel qualified for the final of the European Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden, on Thursday evening after nearly 12,000 people, including activist Greta Thunberg, demonstrated in that city against Israel's participation. Joost Klein, the representative of the Netherlands in the competition, who had expressed his disagreement on Thursday evening at being placed next to the Israeli candidate, Eden Golan, was deprived of a dress rehearsal, the organization citing an “incident” without more details.

Israel's participation is also contested by the far-left Sumar party (whose leader, Yolanda Diaz, is number three in the Spanish government), which launched a petition on Friday to request the country's exclusion from the final. On the contrary, according to French Minister Jean-Noël Barrot, interviewed by the daily Libération: “At a time when freedom of creation is threatened throughout the world, Europe must continue to defend, loud and clear, this essential principle to democracy,” he stressed.

“In the particular case of Eurovision, these pressures are contrary to the spirit of the competition, whose motto is “United by music” and which aims to bring together the people of Europe, and beyond, around artistic creation, singing. This is what must remain at the heart of the competition,” he insists.

A theoretically apolitical competition

Israel is represented by Eden Golan, 20, and Israeli public broadcaster KAN, with the song Hurricane. Eurovision organizers had not approved his first song October Rain, widely seen as an overly political reference to the bloody attack by the Islamist group Hamas in Israel on October 7, which sparked the deadly war in Gaza.

“Calls for a boycott against the participation of Israeli artists” in Malmö “as everywhere in Europe (…) are totally unacceptable”, also wrote on X, the German Minister of Culture, Claudia Roth.

The Eurovision regulations provide that the competition remains apolitical: “All participating broadcasters (…) must ensure that the Eurovision Song Contest is in no way politicized and/or instrumentalized and/or discredited in any way. manner whatsoever. » The claimed neutrality of the show was shaken up on Tuesday by Swedish singer Eric Saade, who appeared with his arm girded by a Palestinian keffiyeh. “People must express their opinions, people must boycott,” said Magnus Bormark, candidate for Norway, who called for a lasting ceasefire with eight other participants.