Stephen Fry is among the signatories of a letter condemning a planned boycott of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest over the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The letter—which has been released by non-profit Creative Community For Peace—says that music “transcends boundaries and brings people together under a common bond.”
“We believe that unifying events, such as singing competitions, are crucial to help bridge our cultural divides and bring people of all backgrounds together through their shared love of music,” the open letter reads.
Eurovision: ‘The spirit of togetherness is under attack’
“The annual Eurovision Song Contest embodies this unifying power. Every year, millions of people across Europe, and around the world, join together in a massive display of cultural exchange and celebration of music.
“Unfortunately, this year, the spirit of togetherness is under attack by those calling to boycott Eurovision 2019 because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division.
“We believe the cultural boycott movement is an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition.”
– Creative Community For Peace open letter
“We believe the cultural boycott movement is an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition.
“While we all may have differing opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the best path to peace, we all agree that a cultural boycott is not the answer.”
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Other high-profile signatories include Sharon Osbourne, Rachel Riley, Gene Simmons and Rory Cowen, the openly gay Mrs Brown’s Boys actor.
Calls for a boycott have been gaining momentum as Eurovision draws nearer
The group has also started a Change.org petition where Eurovision fans can sign the same open letter in support of Eurovision in Tel Aviv. At the time of writing, the petition had been signed more than 15,000 times.
Calls for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv have gained momentum as the contest draws nearer.
In January, more than 60 LGBT+ groups from across Europe urged queer people to boycott the contest as a part of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The campaign urges boycotts against the country for what pro-Palestinian activists claim amounts to an apartheid regime.
Meanwhile, high-profile LGBT+ activists in Ireland urged their country’s Eurovision contestant Sarah McTernan to pull out of the contest in an open letter in Gay Community News (GCN).
Israel has been accused of ‘pinkwashing’
In the open letter, the group said that Israel was “pinkwashing”—a term which they defined as a “PR tactic used by Israel which cynically exploits support for LGBTQIA people to whitewash its oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The group was later accused of “bullying” McTernan by campaigners from a pro-Israeli group.
In addition, Madonna has faced pressure to cancel her planned Eurovision performance for which she is reportedly set to receive $1 million.
A number of LGBT+ artists will also be staging a Eurovision boycott by hosting an event called Globalvision instead. Globalvision will air online at the same time as the Eurovision final and will go live to gigs in several countries.