Palestinian artists called on Eurovision song contestants to boycott the international music competition that Israel is hosting next week.
The Gaza Strip-based Palestinian Artists Association said Wednesday that Israel is using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime”.
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The artists cited the killing of more than 60 Palestinians during protests in Gaza along the Israeli fence on May 14 last year, the same day Israel won the Eurovision.
The association held a sit-in outside the EU‘s Gaza office and wrote a letter of protest.
On April 17, musician Roger Waters wrote an open letter to Madonna in The Guardian urging her to cancel her performance at this year’s Eurovision.
“To perform in Israel is a lucrative gig but to do so serves to normalise the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters … all that bad stuff,” Waters wrote.
Earlier in the year British cultural figures – including Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel and Mike Leigh – also signed a letter calling on British broadcaster BBC to cancel its coverage of Eurovision.
However, BBC responded that it will take part in the event as the Eurovision Song Contest “is not a political event”.
In 2005, more than 200 Palestinian civil society organisations formed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) – modelled after the South African anti-apartheid movement – urging non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law.
Since then many musicians have heeded the call to boycott performances in Israel including Sinead O’Connor, Elvis Costello, Andy Irvine, Paul Brady, Roger Waters and Lorde.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered “massive strikes” on the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation in which Israeli warplanes and gunboats targeted Gaza, as fighters in the besieged enclave fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel.
Over the weekend a surge of violence led to the deaths of at least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis.
The escalation began after Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in two separate incidents on Friday.
The renewed violence threatened to disrupt Eurovision 2019 slated to begin May 14, with hundreds of millions of viewers expected to tune in.
After three days of air raids and rocket attacks, Israel and Gaza reached a ceasefire agreement on Monday with the help of Egyptian and Qatari mediators.
Israel has held the Palestinian territories under military occupation since 1967 and blockaded the Gaza Strip for the past 12 years.