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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 6 December, 2019

Eurovision winner says people calling for Israel boycott are 'spreading darkness'

There have been widespread calls for a boycott of this year’s event both in Ireland and abroad.

Netta Barzilai after winning last year's contest.
Netta Barzilai after winning last year's contest.
Image: PA Images

THE ISRAELI SINGER who won last year’s Eurovision Song Contest has said calls to boycott this year’s event in Tel Aviv amount to “spreading darkness”.

Netta Barzilai described the contest as “a festival of light” and claimed that those opposed to the contest being held in Israel may be “acting against their own beliefs”.

“Being on the same stage no matter what your religion is — your ethnicity, your colour — from all these countries, all these cultures combined together, this is a festival of light,” Barzilai told journalists in Jerusalem.

“For people to boycott light is spreading darkness, is doing the exact opposite thing, and that’s why I think they might be going against their own beliefs,” she added.

Asked whether she would perform for Palestinians, Barzilai said: “I wasn’t invited, but if my singing could solve problems, I would go.”

There have been widespread calls for a boycott of this year’s event both in Ireland and abroad.

In Ireland, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign has been campaigning for a boycott with musicians like Christy Moore and former contest winner Charlie McGettigan among those who have been supporting this approach.

RTÉ has said that it will not sanction any member of staff who doesn’t wish to travel to Israel for next month’s contest, which takes place over two nights on 14 and 18 May

In the UK, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and singer Peter Gabriel have called for this year’s contest to be moved to another country. Waters has also called on Madonna to abandon plans to perform at Eurovision.

Israel earned the right to host this year’s Eurovision when Barzilai won the 2018 contest in Lisbon with a song called Toy that was inspired by the #MeToo movement.

Speaking on stage in Lisbon after the win, Barzilai had called for the 2019 contest to be held in Jerusalem.

“I love my country, next time Jerusalem,” she declared.

Jerusalem previously hosted the contest in 1979 and 1999 but Tel Aviv was chosen as this year’s venue by the European Broadcasting Union.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital and the status of the city has long been disputed.

- With reporting by © -AFP 2019

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Rónán Duffy

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