Because it’s expected the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel will be a focus for protests against the country’s treatment of the Palestinians, Israel has said it will block activists who plan to disrupt the song contest from entering the country.
The event has become a target for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which accuses Israel of using music to “whitewash” its policy towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. “This is going to be a huge party in which thousands of people will participate but we will remain extremely vigilant in order to make sure that no one comes here in order to disturb and destroy,” said an official from the government. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had planned to hold Eurovision in Jerusalem as part of the government’s campaign for global recognition of the holy city as Israel’s capital. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which sponsors the contest, decided to hold it in Tel Aviv.
“All the bids were exemplary, but in the end, we decided that Tel Aviv provides the best overall setup for the world’s largest live music event,” said Jon Ola Sand, the executive supervisor of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). “We are expecting to receive guarantees from the prime minister this week in regards to security, access for everyone to attend, freedom of expression and ensuring the non-political nature of the contest,” the chairman of Eurovision’s executive committee, Frank-Dieter Freiling said in a statement.