Palestinians plan Eurovision alternative

Left-wing Israelis hold a banner during a rally against Eurovision in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Pro-Palestinian campaigners plan an alternative song contest to draw attention to the country’s occupation. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019

Palestinians plan Eurovision alternative

  • Campaigners do not want to simply oppose the Israeli event but host a positive alternative

RAMALLAH: Israel hosts the Eurovision song contest this week and the thousands of visitors who come with it, but Palestinians are planning an alternative they hope draws attention to the country’s occupation.

The alternative to Eurovision, called “Globalvision,” will be held on Saturday, the same day of the song contest’s finals in Tel Aviv.

Pro-Palestinian campaigners say the idea for it came from the fact that they do not want to simply oppose the Israeli event but host a positive alternative.

Globalvision parties are expected in London, Dublin, the Palestinian city of Ramallah and Haifa in northern Israel, which has a significant Arab population.

No European TV channels are expected to feature the events but they will be streamed online, with organizers encouraging people to tune in instead of watching Eurovision.

Among those expected to take part is influential British musician and producer Brian Eno, along with prominent Palestinian musicians.

The Haifa event will feature a drag queen and other performers who will fulfil the desire for the famed Eurovision kitsch, said Najwan Berekdar, one of the organizers.

She said the aim was to create an “alternative musical event that highlights the original values of Eurovision, which is inclusion and diversity.”

Tel Aviv hosts the largest Gay Pride event in the Middle East every year and the city has a cosmopolitan feel.

This tolerance of homosexuality is often trumpeted by Israeli officials, who compare it to many Arab states where homosexuality is criminalized.

Critics say this amounts to “pinkwashing” — seeking to use its pro-gay attitudes to downplay its occupation of Palestinian territory.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move never accepted by the international community.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in communities considered illegal under international law.

“Israel is using art and culture to whitewash occupation,” Berekdar said.

Apart from Globalvision, Palestinians have been seeking to have their voices heard in other ways.

Madonna has received criticism for her planned performance at Eurovision on Saturday, including a plea to cancel from the mother of a Palestinian journalist shot dead by Israeli forces during protests and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border last year.

The US pop star has since said she will reject boycott calls and headline the event.

Anti-occupation NGO Breaking the Silence has also erected a billboard in Israel with the slogan “Dare to Dream of Freedom,” playing on this year’s Eurovision slogan “Dare to Dream.”

And in Gaza on Tuesday, musicians performed in the shadow of a building destroyed by an Israeli air strike in response to Palestinian rocket fire earlier this month.

Tuesday night saw hackers succeed in flashing a fake rocket attack warning during the webcast of a Eurovision semifinal in an
incident Israel’s public broadcaster blamed on Hamas, the
Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

There was however no comment from Hamas on the allegation.

Back in Tel Aviv, Israeli police have increased their presence ahead of the event with a spokesman saying “hundreds of police officers, special patrol units and private security guards (are) securing the beach area, Eurovillage and the area of the expo.”

On stage in Tel Aviv, all eyes will be on Iceland’s entry for a potential protest.

The band Hatari, who dress in so-called BDSM outfits — bondage clothing including leather and whips — have been critical of Israel.

They have previously challenged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Glima, a Nordic folk wrestling match, and could still seek to highlight the Palestinians’ plight during the extravaganza.


Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

Updated 15 November 2019

Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

BEIRUT: Three major Lebanese parties have agreed on nominating Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, to become prime minister of a new government, the Lebanese broadcasters LBCI and MTV reported on Thursday.
The agreement was reached in a meeting on Thursday between outgoing Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician, and senior representatives of the Shiite groups Amal and Hezbollah.
There was no official comment from the parties or Safadi. The broadcasters did not identify their sources.
Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29 in the face of an unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Hariri remains caretaker prime minister for now.
Since quitting, Hariri, who is aligned with the West and Gulf Arab states, has been holding closed-door meetings with parties including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which had wanted him to be prime minister again.
Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim according to the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Mustaqbal Web, a Hariri-owned news website, said a meeting between Hariri, Ali Hassan Khalil of the Amal Movement and Hussein Al-Khalil of Hezbollah had discussed recommending Safadi for the post.
MTV said the government would be a mixture of politicians and technocrats. Mustaqbal Web said the type of government was not discussed, and neither was the question of whether Hariri’s Future Movement would be part of the Cabinet.
LBCI said the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah, had also agreed to Safadi’s nomination.
They did not identify their sources.
Safadi is a prominent businessman and member of parliament from the northern city of Tripoli. He served previously as finance minister from 2011-2014 under prime minister Najib Mikati.
Prior to that, he served as minister of economy and trade in the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who was backed by the West. He held that post again in the Hariri-led Cabinet that took office in 2009.
Hariri had said he would only return as prime minister of a Cabinet of specialist ministers which he believed would be best placed to win international aid and steer Lebanon out of its economic crisis, sources close to Hariri have said.