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  • The Polish representative act rehearses, as European artists have arrived in Tel Aviv.

    The Polish representative act rehearses, as European artists have arrived in Tel Aviv. | Photo: Eurovision 2019

Published 8 May 2019

Artists around the world and civil society organizations have called for a boycott based on the systematic killing of Palestinians and violations of international law. 

The Gaza-based Palestinian Artists Association is asking for Eurovision contestants to boycott the international music competition that Israel will be hosting from May 14 to 18 in Tel Aviv, as it will be used to "perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime." 

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On Wednesday, the group held a sit-in outside the European Union's Gaza office and wrote a letter of protest. Israel obtained the chance to host the event after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai became the 2018 edition winner on May 2018. Ever since many artists around the world and civil society organizations have called for a boycott based on the systematic killing of Palestinians and violations of international law. 

Just last week a two-day Israeli attack on the besieged Gaza strip killed 25 civilians including a pregnant woman, a 15-month-old child, and also injuring at least 154 people, according to local Palestinian media. The artists also cited the killing of more than 60 Palestinians during protests in Gaza along on May 14 last year, the same day Israel won the Eurovision. 

Since then, around 140 artists have called for boycotting the event, in January, 60 LGBTQ joined and in early April 171 Swedish artists gave a similar call. However, none of the 42 acts taking part in the contest have pulled out.  

Due to the fresh wave of attacks, Israel said that it will block activists from entering the country during the 64 annual song contest, fearing activists will protest the event to highlight Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

On April 17, international-renowned musician Roger Waters — former legendary rock band, Pink Floyd — wrote an open letter named, “If you believe in human rights, Madonna, don’t play Tel Aviv” published in The Guardian prompting her to cancel her performance.

"To perform in Israel is a lucrative gig, but to do so serves to normalize the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters ... all that bad stuff," Waters wrote.

All these measures are part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, started in 2005 by more than 200 Palestinian civil society organizations. The BDS initiative is modeled after the South African anti-apartheid movement, pushing for non-violent actions to pressure Israel to stop human right’s violations and comply with international law.

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