Eurovision seeks to contain Palestinian symbols in its most political edition

Eurovision seeks to contain Palestinian symbols in its most political edition
Eurovision seeks to contain Palestinian symbols in its most political edition

In circles of experts in international politics it is common to hear that phrase that says that “who knows about Eurovision, knows about geopolitics.” The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organizer of the music competition, has always tried to maintain a political stance, prohibiting the display of flags that do not represent the participating countries or the LGTBIQ+ community and restricting political symbols. However, Eurovision has by no means been free of controversies related to diplomatic conflicts.

The gala is a good thermometer of how the diplomatic situation is in the Old Continent and, on this occasion, the war in Gaza and Israeli participation is being the political issue par excellence. On Tuesday, in the first Eurovision semi-final held this year in Malmö (Sweden), Eric Saade, Swedish representative in 2011 and guest artist in the first semi-final, lit the fuse with the first controversy. The artist appeared on stage with a kufiya (the Palestinian scarf) tied around the wrist, which earned her censure from the organization.

Saade, whose father is Palestinian, already attacked the organizers of the music competition last week for their ban on flags and symbols – including Palestinian ones – and called the EBU “shameful” and accused it of spreading “Israeli propaganda.” . After the performance, the Swedish network SVT condemned her and the Union’s gesture He regretted in a statement that the artist “chose to compromise the apolitical nature of the event.” Unlike Chanel and Eleni Foureira, her performance was not uploaded to Eurovision social media.

[“Esto no va de gobiernos”: por qué Eurovisión no veta a Israel por la guerra en Gaza como hizo con Rusia]

The Swedish artist, for his part, responded that the scarf had been a gift from his father so that he would never forget where his family came from. “I didn’t know then that one day he would be called a ‘political symbol’. It’s like calling the Dala horse a political symbol. In my eyes, It’s nothing more than racism. I just wanted to be inclusive and wear something that is real to me, but the EBU seems to think my ethnicity is controversial. That says nothing about me, but everything about them. “I repeat this year’s Eurovision motto: United by music,” Saade responded in a statement posted on Instagram.

It was not the only controversy of the night. In the press conference after the first semifinal, the representative of IrelandBambie Thug, assured that the organization forced them to change clothes, since their initial outfit had the words “Ceasefire” and “Free Palestine” incorporated. Previously, the group had called for a boycott of Israeli artist Eden Golan. “I support anyone who boycotts, probably if I didn’t participate I would do it too,” she said.

Be careful not to break the rules

The international music competition, which is followed by more than 150 million people around the world, is usually very harsh with violations of the rule. A very memorable episode is that of 2009when the organization decided to disqualify the Georgian delegation. The song, ‘Put In Disco’, and its chorus “We don’t wanna put in” (which sounded very similar to “We don’t want Putin”) seemed like a very hint. obvious to the Russian invasion of South Ossetia in 2008, which led to a brief but bloody war between Georgia and Russia.

In 2022after the large-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia was removed from the contest, something that for many was a political move that should not have been made. At that time, the EBU argued that the decision made had been harsh, but that the contest must represent “the basic and ultimate values ​​of democracy.” Russian national broadcasters subsequently suspended their EBU membership, preventing them from participating in future contests.

Rehearsal by the artist who will represent Israel in Eurovision, Eden Golan.


The Israel’s inclusion has generated great controversy, since many advocate excluding it from the competition as it did with Russia. In January, more than 1,000 Swedish artists sent a letter to the Eurovision organization asking them to suspend Israel for the Gaza war. Jean Philip De Tender, deputy director general of the EBU, however, declared to SkyNews that excluding Israel from the contest “would have been a political decision and, as such, one we cannot make”.

[Israel envía a su jefe de Inteligencia a Eurovisión ante posibles ataques al fracasar el boicot por Gaza]

Previously, the organizers had already asked the Israeli delegation change the lyrics of your song. Initially titled ‘October Rain’, the song seemed a clear reference to the attack perpetrated by Hamas on October 7 in Israeli territory, in which around 1,200 people died. After a series of scuffles, Israel will finally participate in the contest after renaming the song ‘Hurricane’.

On high alert

Eurovision organizers have been on high alert in case of riots and protests this week. The city has considerably reinforced its police presence and reinforcements have even arrived from neighboring Denmark and Norway. Furthermore, they have Emptying local jail cells in case of mass arrests.

The Larger protests expected on Thursday, when the Israeli Eden Golan appears in the second semifinal of the contest. According to the news agency Reuters, the demonstration is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. local time on Thursday and Saturday. Authorities expect tens of thousands of people to attend. Israel supporters have also scheduled a counter-protest on Thursday at 4 p.m.

Local authorities have declared that the threat level of terrorist or cyber attacks is high and, therefore, raised the threat level in the city from level 2 (potential threat) to 3 (moderate threat). Likewise, the Swedish National Security Council issued an alert last Thursday recommending Israelis not travel to Malmö.

In fact, the Israeli singer arrived in Malmö last week accompanied by a strong security presence and has been absent from virtually all Eurovision-related events before the final. Israel considers that the risk is so high for the artist that it has decided to send the director of Israel’s internal Intelligence agency (Shin Bet), Ronen Bar, to Sweden along with a delegation to coordinate the security of the Israeli delegation in the face of fear. of attacks.

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