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Music

Mounting pressure on Iceland to boycott Eurovision 2019 in Israel

By Staff

  • Netta and the rest of Israel's Eurovision team Isreal won first place in this year's Eurovision song contest. Photo/Eurovision

  • Netta The last time Israel won Eurovision was in 1998 when Dana International won witht he song Diva. Photo/AP

Nearly 18,000 people have signed a petition asking the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service to decline participation in next year's Eurovision Song Contest. The organizers of the petition argue that participating in the song contest amounts to an endorsement of Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinian people. The boycott enjoys the support of various popular Icelandic musicians, including the Icelandic King of Eurovision, Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson.

Human rights violations in occupied territories
When it became clear Israel had won the 2018 Eurovision song contest and would therefore host next year's competition many Icelanders took to social media to suggest Iceland refuse to participate. Angry over the growing tension in the Middle East and mounting violence on the border between Israel and what remains of Palestinian controlled territories these people argued that Iceland could take a firm stand and send a message to Israel and the rest of Europe.

Among those who suggested Iceland boycott the competition was Páll Óskar, one of Iceland's most beloved entertainers. Páll Óskar competed in Eurovision on behalf of Iceland in 1997.Páll said on Facebook that this was the perfect opportunity for Iceland to "protest against the mass murder of Palestinians by Israel."

"A glossy glamor-event"
An online petition was quickly created, demanding the National Broadcasting Service boycott next year's competition:

"In view of the human rights abuses of Israel against the Palestinian people, it is morally indefensible to participate in a a glossy glamor-event like Eurovision which takes place in the shadow of Israeli violence against its neighbors. In recent months, Israel has murdered dozens of people for no other reason than the fact that they were protesting against the situation."

At noon on Wednesday 17,822 people had signed the petition. The total population of Iceland is 340,000.

The director of programming for the National Broadcasting Service RÚV told the local news site Vísir that a decision about participating next year had not yet been made. 

Iceland landed in dead last place in this year's Eurovision song contest. Iceland has twice landed in second place, in 1999 and 2009. Iceland is the only Nordic country that has never won Eurovision. Israel won the 2018 contest with the highest score ever in the contest, 529 points. 

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