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January 30, 2019 3:36 pm

BBC Rejects Calls From Anti-Israel Activists to Not Air Eurovision Contest in Tel Aviv

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Israel’s Netta Barzilai performs after winning the 2018 Eurovision song contest at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Pedro Nunes.

The BBC had rejected a call from a group of anti-Israel activists to not air this year’s Eurovision song contest, set to be held on Tel Aviv in May.

Eurovision “is not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign,” the London-headquartered public service broadcaster said in a statement. “The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity, and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons.”

“Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC,” it added.

The statement came in response to a letter published on Tuesday in The Guardian that was signed by 50 well-known artists — including vehement Israel critic Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd frontman.

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“Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations — and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights,” the letter said. “The European Broadcasting Union chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem — but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces.”

“The BBC is bound by its charter to ‘champion freedom of expression,’” the letter concluded. “It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.”

The Jewish state earned the right to host Eurovision this year when Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the 2018 contest in Portugal.

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