Belgian Artists Issue Open Letter Urging Eurovision Ban on Israel

Sarhan Basem

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – Belgian artists call for banning Israel from Eurovision, citing the Gaza conflict. Over 200 cultural figures signed a letter urging the European Broadcasting Union to exclude Israel from the contest.

Belgium-based artists publicise an open letter asking that Israel be banned from the Eurovision. An open letter inscribed by some 200 Belgian artists, writers and musicians was sent to the European Broadcasting Union to ask that Israel not be permitted to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest next month due to the battle being waged in Gaza

According to the VRT, Almost 200 artists, writers and others working in Belgium’s cultural sector have issued an open letter asking that Israel be banned from taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest next month. The semi-finals of Eurovision take place on 7 and 9 May, with the major finale being published from out of Malmö, Sweden, on 11 May.

Which artists signed the open letter?

The letter was signed by many cultural sector heavyweights such as singers Daan and Charlotte Adigéry, author Tom Lanoye and jazz pianist Jef Neve. It pursues a similar effort from the Swedish music industry requesting for Swedish public broadcaster SVT to exclude Israel from the contest this year. The Dutch cultural sector has also publicised an open letter with the same request.

What’s the rationale behind the ban request?

Belgium’s letter is addressed to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which manages Eurovision, as well as to Belgium’s public broadcasters VRT and RTBF. “At this moment, the Israeli military has killed over 31,000 Palestinians, including 13,000 children,” reads the letter. “The Palestinian population is displaced and living in dehumanising conditions.”

Is Eurovision becoming a platform for politics?

The letter goes on to bring VRT to task for “following EBU’s lead” by answering that Eurovision is not political and aims to unify countries. “In 2022, the EBU was able to make a political decision when it excluded Russia from the festival due to the invasion of Ukraine,” reads the letter. “So why the double standard now? 

Claiming that the festival is ‘non-political’ above all demonstrates that the public broadcaster would rather offer a platform to a state responsible for 31,000 deaths than signal against such atrocities. They prefer not to lose viewers or good connections with the Israeli broadcaster rather than speak out against a genocide.”

Will the EBU reverse its decision?

The letter concludes with a request for the EBU, VRT and RTBF to “reverse their decision” and “not permit Israel to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden in 2024.” Moreover, anyone can add their representation to Belgium’s letter and see an index of everyone who has signed so far. Now the signatories are more than 300.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.