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Eurovision: Finnish artists call for Israel to be banned from contest

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Eurovision: Finnish artists call for Israel to be banned from contest

Over 1,400 Finnish musicians signed a petition demanding Israel to be excluded over war crimes in Gaza

Nader Durgham

Thu, 01/11/2024 – 13:15

Singer Michael Ben David performs on behalf of Israel during the 2022 Eurovision Song contest (AFP)

Over 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals have signed a petition demanding a ban on Israel taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest, accusing the state of war crimes in Gaza.

“Israel violates human rights,” Lukas Korpelainen, the initiator of the petition, told Swedish-language Finnish news outlet Hufvudstadsbladet, adding: “We don’t think it’s okay for the country to be part of the (Eurovision) to polish its image.”

Eurovision is a yearly international song contest where mostly European countries submit songs to be performed in a live television broadcast, with competing countries and viewers voting on the performances to eventually choose a winner.

Israel has been taking part in the contest since 1973, submitting 45 entries since then and even winning in 2018.

While it is one of the 37 registered countries for the competition, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organiser of the event, has not yet made a decision on Israel’s participation.


The musicians who signed the petition are urging Finnish television company Yle to pressure organisers to meet their demands, or boycott the competition if Israel is not banned.

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Signatories include Olavi Uusivirta, Paleface and Axel Ehnstrom, who represented Finland in the 2011 edition.

The petition follows similar calls from Icelandic musicians in December, who demanded their country boycott Eurovision should Israel be allowed to participate.

The authors of the petition pointed out that Yle was one of the first broadcasters to demand a ban on Russia’s participation following its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and expect “the same active defending of values from Yle now as well,” accusing it of double standards should it not comply.

Yle representative Ville Vilen had said in 2022 that Russia’s invasion was “contrary to all the values that Yle and other European broadcasters represent”.

He claims, however, that the war on Gaza is different, as he does not believe it corresponds to inter-state violence in the way the Russian-Ukrainian war does.

The broadcaster said it is following the situation and monitoring the position of the EBU. It is also planning to meet the petition’s authors.

The EBU, which banned Russia from participating in 2022, rejected calls to forbid Israel from participating back in December.

“It is a competition for broadcasters – not governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the contest for 50 years,” the EBU said in a statement.

“The Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event that unites audiences worldwide through music.”

The current war on Gaza started with a Hamas-led assault on Israel, in which 1,140 were killed.

In response, Israel has been relentlessly bombing the Gaza Strip and has sent troops into the area, killing over 23,000 Palestinians including at least 9,100 children, and destroying large swathes of the Palestinian enclave’s infrastructure.

In a case submitted to the International Court of Justice, South Africa accused Israel of committing a genocide in Gaza.

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