February 1 - Spain’s Podemos party urges boycott of Israel in Eurovision

Feb 1, 2024. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

In parliament, Spain's far-left Podemos party on Thursday officially urged the government to take a clear stand against Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

"Israel should be barred from any international activity as a pressure tactic to halt the genocide against the Palestinian people," Podemos leader posted Ione Belarra on X. "All countries should call for its exclusion from Eurovision."

The non-legislative proposal will be debated and voted on in parliament. If passed, the government would commit to trying to convince other EU countries to block Israel from the song competition.

The government would also urge the country's public broadcaster RTVE to defend the exclusion of Israel, just like it did with Russia in 2022.

In Podemos' proposal, the group argues that Eurovision's values of "universality, diversity, equality and inclusion" are "incompatible with the participation of Israel," which is abusing human rights and international law in the West Bank and Gaza.

"In that sense," argues Podemos, "it is worrying that a showcase like Eurovision could whitewash the Zionist state of Israel in the eyes of millions of viewers. Especially when, in 2022, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) decided to expel Russia from the contest after the invasion of Ukraine."

These are not the first calls to exclude Israel from Eurovision.

"This is a massacre, a genocide," said Ines Hernand, one of the presenters for the Spanish song competition to choose the Eurovision contestant, at a press conference this week. "That Israel is participating when Russia was vetoed … hints at another set of issues that has to do with money."

Earlier this week, more than 1,000 musical artists from host country Sweden also signed an open letter calling for an Israel ban over its "brutal warfare in Gaza."

A similar letter was previously signed by around 1,400 artists from Finland and Iceland.

Iceland's national broadcaster has said the decision to boycott the event if Israel continues will be up to the candidate it chooses to participate in the competition.

In response to these calls, the EBU said that Israel would not be excluded from the contest, saying it wants to maintain the competition's status as "an apolitical event that unites audiences around the world through music."

Eurovision is set to be held in Malmo, Sweden on May 7-11.

As of 2023, Israel had competed in the song contest 44 times, winning four times — in 1978, 1979, 1998 and 2018.