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The Eurovision logo located on Independence Square in Kyiv in 2017 Alamy Stock Photo

RTÉ receives over 600 emails asking it to boycott Eurovision due to Israel’s involvement

The acts hoping to represent Ireland at the song contest will be announced next week.

MORE THAN 600 emails have been sent to RTÉ calling on it to boycott the Eurovision due to Israel’s involvement in the song contest.

RTÉ is Ireland’s representative broadcaster at the Eurovision and it has been urged in these emails to “immediately withdraw support and participation in the contest next year, if Israel is permitted to compete”.

Israel was expected, as usual, to take part in the 68th annual contest – but the campaign to launch an Irish boycott gathered pace after official confirmation last month of the 37 countries to take part in event in the Swedish city of Malmö in May.

RTÉ still intends on taking part in the competition, a spokesperson confirmed to The Journal yesterday.

“RTÉ has always approached the event in the spirit in which it was founded – which is a non-political contest designed to unite audiences and bring people together through a shared love of music and entertainment,” the spokesperson said.

They added that RTÉ is not “not aware” of any participating public service broadcaster who is planning to boycott the Eurovision over Israel’s involvement.

The acts hoping to represent Ireland at the Eurovision will be announced next week on The Ray D’Arcy Show on RTÉ Radio 1. The chosen act will be selected in the coming weeks.

The template email being sent to RTÉ claims that Israel’s participation “brings the entire competition into disrepute”.

The petition adds that by “competing alongside Israel, we are supporting the atrocities currently being carried out by Israel in Palestine”.

The email notes that while a “boycott of the competition will not end the brutal violence, it will serve as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian people”.

Russian exclusion 

The petition also notes that Russia was excluded from the competition due to the invasion of Ukraine after the organisers said not doing so would “bring the competition into disrepute”.

The Eurovision Song Contest is organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

In the immediate aftermath of the 2022 Ukraine invasion, the EBU said it was “monitoring the situation” and that Russia remained in that year’s competition.

However, that decision was reversed within 24 hours.

As EBU boss and former RTÉ Director General Noel Curran explained in an interview with The Journal at that year’s song contest, “it was pretty clear to us that we wouldn’t be able to have Russia take part”.

The template email being sent to RTÉ as part of the current boycott campaign said this decision “sent a powerful message of solidarity to the citizens of Ukraine and showed the world that Eurovision stands for unity and peace”.

“The people of Palestine deserve to hear that message”, the email added.

No plans to ban Israel

The EBU – which is, essentially, an alliance of public service media organisations whose countries are within the European Broadcasting Area – told The Journal that the Eurovision is “a competition for broadcasters – not governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the contest for 50 years”.

“We are a member-led organisation. The governing bodies of the European Broadcasting Union represent the membership.

“These bodies have reviewed the participants list and agreed that the Israeli public broadcaster KAN meets all the competition rules and can participate in the Contest next year in Malmö, Sweden, alongside 36 other broadcasters.”

The spokesperson added that the EBU is “aligned with other international organisations that have similarly maintained their inclusive stance towards Israeli participants in major competitions at this time”.

In relation to Russia’s exclusion from the contest, the spokesperson said: “In 2022, following the invasion of Ukraine, the governing bodies of the EBU decided to exclude the Russian broadcaster from the Eurovision Song Contest where they would be competing alongside our Member Suspilne Ukraine.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for broadcasters, and after repeated breaches of membership obligations and the violation of public service media values, the Russian members were suspended from the EBU.

The conflict in Gaza has been raging for three months.

Israel launched its campaign against Hamas after the militant group’s 7 October attack, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The militants also took around 250 hostages, 132 of whom remain in captivity, according to Israel, including at least 24 believed to have been killed.

Israel’s relentless bombardment and ground invasion have killed at least 22,600 people, most of them women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Conditions for Gaza’s civilians are precarious, with the United Nations estimating 1.9 million people are displaced.

Contains reporting by Diarmuid Pepper, Daragh Brophy and © AFP 2024