Icelandic Musicians Call for Eurovision Boycott Over Israel’s Participation Amidst Ongoing Conflict

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A group representing musicians in Iceland has called on the Nordic country’s broadcaster RUV to withdraw from the next year’s Eurovision Song Contest if Israel is allowed to participate.

According to recent data from the health ministry in Gaza, over 19,400 individuals, predominantly women and children, have lost their lives as a consequence of Israeli airstrikes and ground operations within the region. These events transpired in response to an incursion into Israel by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people.

The Federation of Textile Traders (FTT) issued a statement on social media last week, imploring everyone to speak out against armed conflict and the harm it brings to non-combatants, including children and other vulnerable populations.

The FTT urged RUV to refrain frome participating in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest unless Israel is barred from the competition under the same circumstances that led to Russia’s exclusion in the previous year’s event.

“It’s only fair that we don’t involve nations who resort to military action in events that are typically associated with positive emotions and hope,” the musicians stated.

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A petition urging Iceland to boycott Eurovision 2024, which is scheduled to take place in Malmo, Sweden in May, had also been started, gathering more than 9,300 signatures. The island nation has a population of some 372,000.

The statement by the FTT was made in the wake of the RUV’s board meeting though the issue of withdrawing from the Eurovision was reportedly not considered during the gathering.

The European Broadcast Union (EBU), which stages the Eurovision, said in a response to several media outlets that it’s “a competition for broadcasters– not governments– and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the Contest for 50 years.”

The union asserted that its position is consistent with that of other global organizations which have also chosen to include Israeli participants in prominent competitions despite the current situation.

Following Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine in February 2022, the EBU issued similar declarations. However, as support for Kiev from the union’s members increased, the EBU altered its position, claiming that Russia’s participation would tarnish the contest’s reputation. As a result, Russia was absent from the Eurovision in both 2022 and 2023.

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On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that Moscow was going to stage its own song contest with “partner countries” as a replacement for the Eurovision. The first iteration of ‘Intervision’ is going to be held in Russia next year, he said.

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