‘Material Girl’ Madonna fails to deflect anger over Israel Eurovision broadcasts

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Luca Hanni of Switzerland performs the song 'She Got Me" during the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest grand final rehearsal in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, May 17. (AP)
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A Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba', or catastrophe, and against Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 15. (Reuters)
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Singer Madonna walks in a street ahead of the final of 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel May 16, 2019. Picture taken May 16. (Reuters)
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France's Bilal Hassani performs the song Roi during the final rehearsals on the eve of the final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 17, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019
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‘Material Girl’ Madonna fails to deflect anger over Israel Eurovision broadcasts

  • BDS movement claims Israel “shamelessly” using song contest as part of ‘Brand Israel’ strategy
  • The BBC under fire for televising the event in UK amid popular support for the Palestinian cause

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.

Singer Madonna walks in a street ahead of the final of 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel May 16, 2019. Picture taken May 16. (Reuters)

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 Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba', or catastrophe, and against Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 15. (Reuters)

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.”


Somali journalists’ body slams police ‘threats’ to shoot reporters

A general view shows people at the scene of a suicide car explosion at a check point near Somali Parliament building in Mogadishu, Somalia June 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Somali journalists’ body slams police ‘threats’ to shoot reporters

  • The SJS called on the Ministry of Information, the commissioner of police and the office of the prime minister to open an investigation, “and take appropriate steps against those responsible”

MOGADISHU: A Somali journalists’ association on Sunday slammed the actions of police who it said threatened to shoot reporters trying to access the scene of a car bombing near Parliament, and warned of a “worsening situation” for the country’s press.
Police at a checkpoint near the site of Saturday’s bombing in Mogadishu, which killed eight people and was claimed by the Al-Shabab militant group, stopped a group of reporters from international news groups, including Al Jazeera’s Jama Nur Ahmed.
“When the journalists tried to explain to the police about their reporting mission, a police officer fired two bullets (in the) air and then pointed his rifle on Jama Nur’s head, according to Jama Nur Ahmed and two other colleagues,” the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said in a statement.
Also in the group were journalists from Reuters, AFP and the Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, followed by a second wave of reporters who were similarly denied access.
“The journalists said the police officers told them they had orders restricting journalist coverage at the scenes of attacks and threatened that any journalist who tries to film will either be shot dead or his/her equipment will be broken resulting (in) the journalists to return back from the scene,” according to the SJS.
It charged Somali police treat journalists “as criminals,” preventing them from doing their work of reporting on events in the country.
“This is a symptom of a worsening situation against journalists in Somalia.”
It said that on May 14 police confiscated reporters’ equipment, detained a cameraman, and beat up two others trying to report on another Mogadishu explosion.
AFP has documented several incidents in recent months of journalists being intimidated and threatened and their equipment seized while trying to report on Al-Shabab attacks.
The SJS called on the Ministry of Information, the commissioner of police and the office of the prime minister to open an investigation, “and take appropriate steps against those responsible.”
“We call the highest offices of the government including that of the Office of the Prime Minister to intervene in order to for the journalists to report freely and accurately without fear,” said the statement.