Eurovision 2024 overtaken by the war in Gaza, the Dutch candidate was excluded

The Eurovision final will take place on the evening of Saturday May 11 in Malmö, Sweden, in a context of tension heightened by the war in Gaza and protests over the participation of the Israeli candidate in the competition

Eurovision 2024 overtaken by the war in Gaza, the Dutch candidate was excluded

The Eurovision final will take place on the evening of Saturday May 11 in Malmö, Sweden, in a context of tension heightened by the war in Gaza and protests over the participation of the Israeli candidate in the competition.

Police reinforcements came from across the Scandinavian country but also from Denmark and Norway to ensure the security of the event, for which nearly 100,000 fans from eighty countries are expected. Police estimate that up to 20,000 people could demonstrate during the day in Malmö against Israeli participation. This city in southern Sweden has the largest community of Palestinian origin in the country.

Israeli singer Eden Golan, aged 20, won her ticket to the final on Thursday evening with the song Hurricane, the initial version of which had to be modified because it was considered to allude to the Hamas attack which bloodied Israel on October 7 .

The Dutch candidate, Joost Klein, who had been suspended the day before, was excluded from the final of the Eurovision contest on Saturday. According to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), his suspension was not linked to the conflict in Gaza. “Swedish police have investigated a complaint made by a female member of the production team following an incident following her performance in Thursday evening’s semi-final,” the EBU said in a statement. . “While the legal process continues, it would not be appropriate for him to continue to participate in the competition.”

Dutch broadcaster Avrotros deemed the singer's disqualification "disproportionate", in a press release sent to Agence France-Presse, saying it was "shocked by the decision". “We deeply regret this and will return to it later,” she added. Initially, twenty-six countries in total were to compete on Saturday to succeed Sweden as winner of this competition, which was followed in 2023 by 162 million viewers.

Calls for boycott

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which oversees this major music event, confirmed Eden Golan's participation in March despite criticism. More recently, nine of the participants, seven of whom are in the final, called for a lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is increasing military operations. Israel has participated in Eurovision since 1973, which it won for the fourth time in 2018. “It’s really an honor to be here (…), to present ourselves with pride,” the candidate rejoiced on Thursday. Israeli, who appeared on Saturday morning in second place among the favorites behind Croatia.

On Friday, the Spanish far-left Sumar party – whose leader Yolanda Diaz is number three in the government – ​​launched a petition to demand the exclusion of Israel from the final “at a time when its troops are exterminating the Palestinian people and destroying all the region ". Berlin responded by judging that “calls for a boycott against the participation of Israeli artists” were “totally unacceptable”, while Paris recalled for its part that “politics has no place at Eurovision”.

Neutrality shaken up

The neutrality claimed by the EBU is thus shaken up like never before. On Tuesday, Swedish singer Eric Saade appeared with his arm girded by a Palestinian keffiyeh. In Belgium, the unions of the Flemish public television channel VRT briefly interrupted the broadcast of the semi-final on Thursday evening to broadcast a message condemning “violations of human rights by the State of Israel”. A gesture regretted by the EBU, which had banned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from speaking during the competition last year, in the name of political neutrality. This year, the war in Ukraine has been overshadowed by the war in Gaza.

On Thursday, nearly 12,000 people, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, had already demonstrated in Malmö against Israel's participation. Before the semi-final was held, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu judged that Eden Golan had “already won”, hailing her in a video message for having “successfully confronted a horrible wave of anti-Semitism”.

“I think everyone is safe,” Eden Golan said at a press conference. Swedish police assured that “there was no threat against Eurovision”. Last summer, Sweden raised its terrorist alert level after acts of desecration of the Koran.

As for the festivities, the 2024 edition offers a wide range of musical genres, from ballads to electro. Malmö, Sweden's third city, hopes to offer fans "the time of their lives", as Abba, who gave the country the Eurovision crown half a century ago, sang.

This year, many songs “deal with mental health – many young artists say they don't feel good and struggle with their identity”, as is the case with Nemo (Switzerland), explains competition specialist Andreas Önnefors. Eden Golan assured that her song Hurricane was about “a young girl going through her own problems, her own emotions”. France, which ranked 16th in 2023, is this year represented by singer Slimane, who will perform the song Mon amour.