Eurovision Organizers Condemn ‘Harassment’ of Contestants Over Israel’s Inclusion

Just two weeks after Olly Alexander rejected calls for him to withdraw from and boycott the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest over Israel’s inclusion, the European Broadcast Union has issued a statement denouncing the “harassment” of Eurovision artists for the same reason.

The statement, which was delivered by Jean Philip De Tender, deputy director general of the EBU, began with an acknowledgment of “the depth of feeling and the strong opinions that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – set against the backdrop of a terrible war in the Middle East – has provoked.”

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De Tender then turns his attention to the “targeted social media campaigns” launched against certain Eurovision artists, saying, “The decision to include any broadcaster, including the Israeli broadcaster Kan, in the Eurovision Song Contest is the sole responsibility of the EBU’s governing bodies and not that of the individual artists. These artists come to Eurovision to share their music, culture, and the universal message of unity through the language of music.”

Earlier this year (Jan. 30), several Swedish artists signed an open letter calling for Israel’s exclusion from Eurovision, writing, “Allowing Israel’s participation undermines not only the spirit of the competition but the entire public service mission. It also sends the signal that governments can commit war crimes without consequences.”

That same month (Jan. 11), more than 14,000 Finnish artists joined Icelandic artists in signing a petition calling for Israel to be banned from the competition. “It is not in accordance with our values that a country that commits war crimes and continues a military occupation is given a public stage to polish its image in the name of music,” read the petition, which all threatened the absence of a Finnish delegation at this year’s Eurovision should the EBU not weigh in on the matter.

Directly addressing the controversy, the EBU’s statement reads, “While we strongly support freedom of speech and the right to express opinions in a democratic society, we firmly oppose any form of online abuse, hate speech, or harassment directed at our artists or any individuals associated with the contest. This is unacceptable and totally unfair, given the artists have no role in this decision.”

The EBU has explanations for the reasoning for the inclusion of Kan, Israel’s eligibility and their response to potential protests available on their website.

“The EBU is dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment for all participants, staff, and fans of the Eurovision Song Contest,” the statement continued. “We will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to promote the values of respect, inclusivity, and understanding, both online and offline. We urge everyone to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue and support the artists who are working tirelessly – on what is a music and entertainment show – to share their music with the world.”

The 2024 edition of Eurovision is slated to take place in Malmö, Sweden between May 7-11. Last year’s victor was Sweden’s Loreen, who sang her way to the winners’ circle with “Tattoo,” which hit No. 2 on the U.K. Official Singles Chart.

Click here to read the EBU’s full statement.

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