Iceland to participate in Eurovision in Israel

13.09.2018 - 12:13
epa06732207 Netta (C) from Israel celebrates after she won the Grand Final of the 63rd annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal, 12 May 2018.  EPA-EFE/JOSE SENA GOULAO
 Mynd: EPA
RÚV has decided it will take part in next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. A final decision was made this morning when the Israeli national broadcaster confirmed it will hold the contest in Tel Aviv, and not in Jerusalem as had been widely rumoured. All of the Nordic countries will take part and RÚV’s head of television broadcasting says in a statement that Europe’s public service broadcasters have largely been united on the issue.

RÚV had been pressured to boycott Eurovision next year in protest at the situation in Gaza and the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians. Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson, head of television broadcasting at RÚV, says in a statement that people’s concerns have been taken seriously.  

After careful discussion and consideration, those responsible for the competition within RÚV have decided to send an Icelandic representation “based on the fact that Eurovision is not a political event,” he writes. “Quite the contrary: it is a coming-together of diverse nations that has, from its very beginning, worked to promote a message of unity and peace through pop music, and culture generally.”  

Skarphéðinn adds that the decision to hold the competition in Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem was an important one, and one which was not made public until today. “No country has yet decided to boycott the contest in Israel for political reasons. The national broadcasters in the Nordic region have generally been united in these matters and have now all confirmed their participation.” 

A group of musicians from around the world recently sent an open letter to The Guardian calling on national broadcasters to boycott the competition in Israel. “Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights,” the letter says. It is signed by over 130 music industry insiders, including two from Iceland: Daði Freyr and Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir.

Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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