SBS rejects boycott petition

Netta and the Israeli delegation celebrating this year’s Eurovision victory.

SBS will broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest from Israel next year despite an online petition calling on the broadcaster to boycott the event.

Expo Tel Aviv was announced last Thursday as the venue for the popular singing contest’s ­semifinals on May 14 and 16 and the grand final on May 19, following Israeli singer Netta Barzilai’s win earlier this year.

A spokesperson from SBS told The AJN, “SBS will continue to be the exclusive broadcaster of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019.

“SBS has been the home of Eurovision for 35 years because of the way the contest celebrates diversity and brings different cultures together, united in a common passion for music.”

The Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) had written to the SBS board and CEO urging them to reject the petition, which accuses Israel of stealing Palestinian lands, of apartheid, of killing Palestinians in cold blood, and of using the competition, “as part of its official Brand Israel strategy, which attempts to whitewash and distract attention from its war crimes against Palestinians”.

“Eurovision should not be used to ‘artwash’ the Israeli government’s apartheid policies and the violence inflicted on Palestinian people,” it states.

ADC chairman Dvir Abramovich said the “grossly distorted” petition takes the extreme and hostile anti-Israel propaganda “to a shocking new level, invoking the antisemitic lie that Israel stole land from the Palestinians and outrageously accusing Israel of apartheid and of intentionally killing Palestinians”.

“The letter deliberately omits to mention that the terrorist group Hamas had carefully orchestrated the Gaza ‘demonstrations’, or that it urged participants to bring a ‘knife or a gun’ in order to kill civilians and kidnap soldiers, or that this was a suicide mission by combatants used as cannon fodder by Hamas,” he said.

“The BDS movement at its core is antisemitic as it denies the Jewish people, and only the Jewish people, a universal right of self-determination. Its aim is not to criticise Israeli policies, but rather to demonise and delegitimise the Jewish State.

“We have written to the SBS board asking it to be a moral voice and to reject this warped campaign, as well as to make it clear that it will never support a campaign that is bigoted in its origins and which makes the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians impossible.”

The boycott petition follows news last week that a number of Australian artists had added their names to a letter calling for the event to be relocated.