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Opinion: Eurovision boycott activists are opposed to Israel's right to self-determination

They pretend that the Jewish people have no right to live in the places where they were born and where their history, religion and culture are deeply rooted, writes the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv.

Ophir Kariv

The Eurovision Song Contest is due to take place in Tel Aviv next week and some campaigners have called for the event to be boycotted. 

The Journal.ie commissioned Voices articles from both sides of the debate so you can read an opinion piece from the other side here

THIS WEEK ISRAEL celebrates 71 years of independence.

In 1948 when the modern Israeli state was born, Israel was a very small, poor country largely consisting of desert.

Its tiny population, many of them Holocaust survivors, had to build a new life and a new country in the ancient land of their forefathers.

They had to do this against repeated aggression from their Arab neighbours who tried to wipe Israel off the map.

Today, Israel is a prosperous, dynamic country of eight million people. The Israeli economy is one of the most innovative in the world.

Israel is proud of its rich, diverse mix of peoples, among them: European and Middle Eastern Jews, Christian Arabs, Muslim Arabs, Druze and Circassians.

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country with free politics, freedom of speech and press, the only country in the region where the LGBT community is equal and free.

Israel, like Ireland, has managed to preserve its freedoms despite having to deal with conflict from its first day.

Later this month, Israel will host the Eurovision for the third time. Ever since the 1950s, the Eurovision has been a leading cultural event bringing people together in mutual celebration of peace and music.

Ireland and Israel have long excelled in it; Ireland has won the competition seven times, Israel four. We welcome people to Tel Aviv, a vibrant, open diverse city on the Mediterranean coast and I wish the best of luck to Ireland’s entry this year, Sarah McTernan.

Regrettably, there is a small group of extremist activists who have tried very hard over the past year to prevent the Eurovision happening this year or at least to stop Ireland’s state broadcaster RTE from airing the event.

These people like to call themselves ‘pro-Palestinian.’ Actually, they are not.

Their activism, their hatred, their negative calls for boycotts, and their aggressive intimidation of people who support Israel do not do anything to improve the life of a single Palestinian but show that their only agenda is an anti-Israel one.

They pretend that the Jewish people have no right to live in the places where they were born and where their history, religion and culture are deeply rooted since ancient times.

They ignore that since the 1990s continuous attempts to reach a peace agreement have been rebuffed and have been met with more and more Palestinian terrorism.

Only last week, Israeli civilians once again became the target of more than 600 rockets fired indiscriminately at towns and cities in southern Israel.

Hamas, the Palestinian terrorists who carried out those attacks, have committed a double war crime. They are intentionally targeting civilians in Israel while also using their own civilian population as human shields for their military assets and rocket launching sites.

In essence, all of this is being backed by those extremist boycotters.

While debate over Israeli policy, like a debate of any country’s policies, is, of course, legitimate, the extremists constantly try to bash and defame Israel by abusing terms and descriptions hijacked from other agendas, places and times.

The most extreme of those false allegations come dangerously close to being covered by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by representatives of 31 countries – including Ireland.

These include, for example, denying the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination; describing Israel as a racist state; dehumanising and demonising Israeli Jews.

This is not about the Eurovision. Millions of Europeans, including Irish people, Israelis, Palestinians and others around the globe will watch the Eurovision Song Contest.

Those who hate Israel want to stop that shared joy from happening. They won’t succeed.

Ophir Kariv is the Ambassador of Israel in Ireland. 

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Ophir Kariv

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