More than 1,000 Swedish artists call for Eurovision to ban Israel

Over 1,000 Swedish artists have called for Israel to be banned from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Since Hamas forces launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, killing 1,200 people, at least 26,637 people have been killed in Gaza and a following 65,387 have been left wounded (via Al Jazeera).

Now, more than 1,000 artists from Sweden have come forward and pushed for Israel to be banned from competing in the 2024 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Robyn, Fever Ray, and First Aid Kit are among those who signed an open letter to the European Broadcast Union (EBU), calling for Israel to not be allowed to compete in the competition – which is set to hold its finale in Malmö, Sweden on May 11.

“The fact that countries that place themselves above humanitarian law are welcomed to participate in international cultural events trivialises violations of international law and makes the suffering of the victims invisible,” the letter reads.

Continuing, it adds that: “Allowing Israel’s participation undermines not only the spirit of the competition but the entire public service mission. It also sends the signal that governments can commit war crimes without consequences.”

“Therefore, we appeal to the EBU: Exclude Israel from the Eurovision Song Contest 2024,” it concludes.

As well as Robyn and Fever Ray, others to sign the open letter to the EBU include Viagra Boys, DJ Seinfeld, Refused and Kite.

 Robyn performs during Austin City Limits Festival
Robyn performs during Austin City Limits Festival . CREDIT: Erika Goldring/FilmMagic/Getty

It also follows a similar campaign from earlier this month, which saw more than 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals sign a petition urging for Israel to be banned.

In response to the letter, Eurovision’s Swedish public broadcaster (SVT) has shared a statement echoing the artists’ concerns, but claimed that they were beholden to the EBU’s decision.

European Broadcasting Union have previously referred to themselves as “an apolitical member organisation” who are “committed to upholding the values of public service,” however, they did ban Russia from competing in 2022 and Belarus the year prior.

They have yet to make a statement on the letters calling for Israel’s ban from Eurovision 2024.

This isn’t the first time that the inclusion of Israel in Eurovision 2024 has sparked backlash. Last month, the song contest drew criticism and threats of boycott after announcing that the country would be taking part as usual.

That same month,  Olly Alexander – who will be representing the UK this year – signed a pro-Palestine letter which calls Israel an “apartheid state” and accuses it of genocide.

Before he was confirmed as the UK’s Eurovision entrant, Alexander signed an open letter from LGBTQ+ activist group Voices4London, which called for a ceasefire in Gaza and for Israel to allow aid into the area. The letter also condemned “Zionist propaganda” amid the war with Hamas.

Norway Entry Alessandra performs on stage during The Eurovision Song Contest 2023
Norway Entry Alessandra performs on stage during The Eurovision Song Contest 2023. CREDIT: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

The letter said: “We are watching a genocide take place in real-time. Death overflows from our phone screens and into our hearts.

“And, as a queer community, we cannot sit idly by while the Israeli Government continues to wipe out entire lineages of Palestinian families. We once said, ‘Silence equals death’. Now is not the time to be silent.”

Similar criticism against Israel taking part in Eurovision arose in 2018, when Wolf Alice, Brian Eno, The Knife and Eurovision finalists called for a boycott of the 2019 contest if it were to be held in Israel.

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