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  • A man paints a mural on a structure that is located close to where the Eurovision Village, a space dedicated of fans of the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, is being constructed in Tel Aviv, Israel May 6, 2019.

    A man paints a mural on a structure that is located close to where the Eurovision Village, a space dedicated of fans of the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, is being constructed in Tel Aviv, Israel May 6, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 May 2019

Israel is blocking activists from entering the country in fear of protests against the Eurovision song contest which is deemed as "whitewashing" Israel's war crimes against Palestinians. 

Israel said that it will block activists from entering the country during the 64the annual Eurovision Song Contest. The country fears that the activists will protest the event to highlight Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

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Israel is hosting this year’s contest because Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the 2018 contest. The semifinals of Eurovision are scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv May 14 and 16. The finals are set to be May 18.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement has urged people to boycott this year’s contest as a protest against Israel’s usage of music to “whitewash” its policies and war crimes against Palestinians.

Last September, around 140 artists called for a boycott of Eurovision and in January, 60 LGBTQI groups also came forward boycotting the same. In early April 171 Swedish artists gave a similar call.

However, none of the 42 acts taking part in the contest have pulled out.  

“This is going to be a huge party in which thousands of people will participate but we will remain extremely vigilant in order to make sure that no one comes here in order to disturb and destroy,” said a Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon.

“We don’t want to prohibit the entry to the state of Israel for people. But on the other hand, if we know for certain that we will be facing people who are anti-Israel activists and whose sole purpose is to disturb the event then we will use the legal instruments that we have regarding the entry to Israel,” he said.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned for Eurovision to be held in Jerusalem, which it considers as the capital of the country. The Israeli forces captured Jerusalem in 1967, but Palestinians and those who support a two-state option consider east Jerusalem as Palestine's future capital.

The event's sponsor, European Broadcasting Union (EBU) chose Tel Aviv as the venue. Frank-Dieter Freiling, chairman of the EBU steering committee released a statement urging Netanyahu to guarantee the “access for everyone to attend” and “freedom of expression.”

Palestinian and international artists planned an alternative event named Globalvision. It will be broadcasted online during the Eurovision finale.

“Globalvision is the platform without walls for Palestinian artists to shine, and for Israeli and global Eurovision fans to join them in the spirit of equality,” the group said in a statement.

“Eurovision is supposed to be about bringing people together [but] it’s almost helping Israel to keep oppressing and keep occupying and it’s almost encouraging it. Although it is a fun pop competition, you can’t remove it from the context of where it is being held and who it is affecting,” said Bashar Murad, is a 26-year-old Palestinian pop singer.

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