LONDON: Not even some Madonna magic was enough to deflect a global chorus of complaints leveled at broadcasters for airing this Saturday’s Eurovision final in Israel.
The 60-year-old queen of pop was hired for a special guest performance in a move dismissed by Palestinian campaigners as a publicity stunt to deflect negative global press coverage of the event.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement claims Tel Aviv is “shamelessly” using the international song contest as part of its ‘Brand Israel’ strategy, which seeks to deflect attention of what it sees as the systemic persecution of Palestinians.
The BBC, which is funded by the British public, has come under fire for televising the event amid popular support for the Palestinian cause in the UK
Indeed a 2017 Arab News poll conducted by YouGov found that 53 percent of respondents believe the UK should recognize Palestine as a state.
Other European national broadcasters have also faced a viewer backlash.
Last month protesters built a fake stone wall to mimic the Israel−Gaza security barrier outside the headquarters of Irish national broadcaster RTÉ in Dublin.
They handed in a petition of more than 16,500 signatures calling on RTÉ not to take part in the singing contest.
A BBC spokesperson told Arab News that the choice of host country for the event was determined by the rules of the competition rather than the broadcaster.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign. The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons. Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event,” the spokesperson said.
Israel has dismissed the boycott calls as discriminatory and anti-semitic.
Madonna has defended her decision to sing at Eurovision, saying that she will always speak up to defend human rights.
However the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott said: “Artwashing Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians for a million dollars must be among the most immoral political agendas.”