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Thousands Petition to Abstain from 2019 Eurovision in Israel

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Thousands Petition to Abstain from 2019 Eurovision in Israel

The protest in Reykjavík against Israeli raids in Gaza

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Thousands of Icelanders have signed a petition calling on national broadcaster RÚV to abstain from participating in next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Israel, Vísir reports. At the time of initial reporting on Tuesday morning, 4,500 people had signed the petition, which Árni St. Sigurðsson started over the weekend. At the time of this writing, however, over 7,000 people have signed, and that number is steadily climbing.

“In light of the state of Israel’s human rights abuses against the people of Palestine, it is morally indefensible to take part in a glamor competition like Eurovision,” reads Árni’s description on the petition page. “...In recent months, the state of Israel has murdered dozens of people simply for protesting the situation.”

In recent days, both Felix Bergsson, the head of Iceland’s Eurovision Delegation, and RÚV’s program director Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson have indicated that currently, their intention is still for Iceland to compete in Eurovision as usual. “As things stand today, we are, first and foremost, going to take part in Jerusalem next year—there’s no question about that,” Felix said in an interview with Vísir. “Israel is part of this collaborative venture and so people just need to try and find ways to protest things in some other way.”

Skarphéðinn was somewhat more circumspect in his comments to mbl.is, saying that “everything is still under consideration,” and that factors like where the competition will be held and the cost of participation would be take into account like they always are. He said that it wasn’t a sure thing that Eurovision would be held in Jerusalem, as Israeli winner Netta Barzilai declared when she won. “Until a formal announcement is made by EBU [the European Broadcasters Union] about where the competition will be held next year, we’re not going to get all worked up and take a stance on it.”

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