The rage against Israel at Eurovision is disgraceful

Eden Golan is being treated like a leper for daring to represent the Jewish State.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Politics World

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Call me complacent, but I had hoped the days of mobs in European cities agitating against the presence of Jewish people were over. Not so, it seems. In Malmö, Sweden thousands took to the streets yesterday, waving Palestine flags and chanting ‘From the river to the sea’. The reason? A Jewish Israeli woman, Eden Golan, was performing in the Eurovision Song Contest’s semi-finals in the city that night. The protesters – including a keffiyeh-clad Greta Thunberg, naturally – can dress this up as righteous resistance to Israeli aggression in Gaza all they want. In the end, we’re left with the spectacle of them running around, furious, because a young woman has been allowed to sing while Israeli.

The bigoted campaign against Israel has often reared its ugly head at Eurovision. In 2019, when the campest show on Earth was actually hosted in Tel Aviv, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement called for competing nations to pull out, backed by prominent artists and musicians from Britain to Ireland to Sweden. Allowing Israel to host Eurovision was allowing Netanyahu to ‘whitewash’ his regime, they said – even though Eurovision is put on by broadcasters, not governments, and the Israeli government actually got into a protracted spat with its own public broadcaster that year for refusing to help fund the contest. Well, now it seems that Israel’s mere participation cannot be tolerated, either. Performers and broadcasters have been urged to boycott this year’s competition in Malmö, including by a group of 1,000 Swedish artists.

The mood is ugly, conformist and borderline hysterical. Golan ​​was booed at the dress rehearsal on Wednesday, as others chanted ‘Free Palestine’. Finnish performer Käärijä was caught on video, sharing a little backstage dance with her. Within hours, after an apparently furious online backlash to this brief, fun encounter, he put out a statement, saying the video was posted ‘without my permission’ and that it was not a ‘political statement or an endorsement of any kind’. Golan is being treated like a moral leper, for no other reason than she is representing her nation.

For all the pro-Palestine side’s talk of avoiding collective punishment in Gaza, this is the definition of collective punishment. Golan is being held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, in a way we would think was weird and quite possibly racist if we were talking about another nation. Are Turks forever hounded for the (many) crimes of Erdoğan? Are we going to start boycotting Chinese cultural institutions, dismissing them all as fronts for the Uyghur-bashing CCP? And yet, BDS and its useful idiots insist that all Israeli businesses, universities and cultural institutions must be boycotted, as if to be Israeli is to be ‘complicit’. This isn’t a campaign against the Israeli government or its policies. It is a campaign against Israel itself, the world’s only Jewish state. And its people.

Irritatingly, the boycotters were handed a precedent when Russia was drummed out of Eurovision in 2022, following its bloody, imperialistic war on Ukraine. Which shows us why banning Russia was a terrible idea to begin with, opening a geopolitical can of worms and playing into Putin’s narrative about rampant Western Russophobia. But all that being said, we also need to call bullshit on the comparison. Russia invaded Ukraine because it wanted to steal territory and dictate Ukraine’s political future. Israel invaded Gaza because Hamas, the genocidal cult that runs that troubled strip of land, murdered, butchered and raped hundreds of Israeli citizens on 7 October last year, the majority of whom were innocent civilians. If anyone is ‘whitewashing’ anything in this war, it is the ‘pro-Palestine’ set, whose eyes roll whenever you bring up the barbarians who started it.

You can see this grim tic in the row over Israel’s song, ‘Hurricane’. It was originally called ‘October Rain’ and made thinly veiled references to the victims of Hamas’s pogrom. Eurovision’s organisers, the European Broadcasting Union, demanded it be revised, so that it wasn’t seen to be too ‘political’. At first, KAN, the Israeli public broadcaster, refused to change the lyrics and had to be convinced to play ball by Israeli president Isaac Herzog. The lyrics to ‘Hurricane’ are now more generic and tell the story of a ‘woman emerging from a personal crisis’. But the protesters are still hopping mad. One Irish activist, who was involved in the booing on Wednesday, told the PA news agency that, even with the changes, ‘Hurricane’ is a ‘propaganda song’. ‘It is about justifying Israel’s genocide in Gaza… I think it’s quite appropriate to kind of boo that propaganda’, he said.

Rows over Israel’s inclusion in Eurovision have cropped up, periodically, since it first began competing in 1973. But they used to largely be confined to its neighbouring states. Lebanon was due to take part in 2005 for the first time, but withdrew after refusing to broadcast the Israeli entry on Lebanese TV. In 1978, Jordanian TV cut to images of flowers during Israel’s performance and then pulled the transmission entirely when it became clear Israel was going to win. (Jordanian broadcasters named runner-up Belgium as the winner instead.) But not any more. The Western chattering classes are now reflexively anti-Israel, too. It’s unbelievably grim that the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust has prompted not sympathy from our cultural elites, but a carnival of victim-blaming, even chants for the destruction of Israel, under the guise of humanitarianism.

We expect this kind of thing from the Islamists and the dregs of the old left. What’s been more concerning is the way, since 7 October, we’ve found out just how much Israelophobia has permeated our cultural institutions more broadly. It isn’t just coming from the veteran activists anymore, steeped in a one-eyed view of history. It’s now almost obligatory to bash Israel at every given opportunity. You see this in the demented response to Britain’s own Eurovision entry, Olly Alexander. He has signed open letters calling for a ceasefire and denouncing Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state. But despite mouthing all the anti-Israel talking points, activists still won’t leave him alone. A group called Queers for Palestine is demanding he pull out of the competition entirely. Meanwhile, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a south-London LGBT venue, has cancelled its popular Eurovision party for tomorrow night. As has the Rio cinema in east London, sparking an investigation from the Charity Commission.

I get that these activists think they’re doing this in the name of liberation and progress. But I dare say future historians will look askance at the Queers for Palestine / Progressives for Hamas / Chickens for KFC phenomenon. A democratic nation, home to the gay capital of the Middle East, and home to Eurovision’s first transsexual winner (1998 champ Dana International), was attacked by racist, homophobic, misogynistic maniacs… and Western ‘progressives’ sided with the racist, homophobic, misogynistic maniacs. These people have become so pickled in woke identity politics that they have come to see the victims of a pogrom as the oppressors, and so drunk on anti-Israel bigotry they are now raging against an Israeli woman for daring to compete in a singing competition.

Thankfully, Eden Golan sailed through the semi-finals last night, seeing down all the protests and the death threats and sealing her position in tomorrow’s grand final. Here’s hoping she does well there too – show the Israelophobes of Malmö, London and beyond that they do not speak for Europe.

Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World


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