Will SBS boycott broadcast of Eurovision 2019 in Israel?

Written by Lars Brandle on 30th May, 2018
Will SBS boycott broadcast of Eurovision 2019 in Israel?

Sometimes music and politics collide. Those two forces are on a crash course after Israel’s Netta won the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Toy’.

In light of the recent violence in Gaza, an Australian Greens senator has asked SBS to consider a blackout of next year’s music fest which, in keeping with the tradition, will be hosted by the winning nation.

As TV Tonight reports, Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon raised the issue with SBS CEO Michael Ebeid at a Senate Estimates hearing last week.

“Recent events along the Gaza border have shown that the Israeli army engage in lethal military actions, on days that are seen as ‘significant’ or when Palestinian-protests are planned,” she said.

“Recent events along the Gaza border have shown that the Israeli army engage in lethal military actions, on days that are seen as ‘significant’ or when Palestinian-protests are planned,” said Rhiannon, a strong advocate for human rights who plans to retire as a Senator in mid-August.

“This means Eurovision‘s activities could impact on who lives and who dies. Will SBS consider these factors when it considers whether to participate in next year’s contest or if it’s held in 2020?”

Watch the video for Netta Barzilai’s ‘TOY’ below:



Forget for a moment the kitsch and confetti. Eurovision was established more than 60 years ago with the wholesome intentions of bringing people together. European Broadcasting Union (EBU), an alliance of public service broadcasters, created the annual song contest back in 1956 to foster closer ties after the horrors of World War II. SBS has beamed Eurovision into Australian homes for 35 years.

Israel has won the event on several occasions, including a memorable victory in 1998 for Dana International’s “Diva” and a “repeat” in 1979-1980. Jerusalem has twice hosted the competition.

Dana International’s “Diva” at eurovision
Dana International

According to reports published in Israel, Jerusalem’s hosting of next year’s party is in doubt due to threats of boycotts by several of the European countries expected to participate, including the U.K., Sweden, Ireland and Iceland.

Ebeid pointed to history as he brushed off the controversy:


“The whole point of Eurovision is to forget politics, forget all of that and unite communities and countries together in the spirit of song, in the spirit of celebration, in the spirit of culture. It transcends things you’re talking about,” he said.

“Israel has won before, Israel has hosted before and it in the spirit of unity and bringing people together and cultures together I can’t imagine that we would not televise Eurovision next year.”

When asked specifically if the network was following calls for a snub, Ebeid said, “I’ve certainly not seen any serious boycott, I know some quarters have talked about it but as I say the European Broadcasting Union is all about uniting people and communities not about the dividing them and Eurovision Song Contest is something that transcends politics.”

In other news, Netta Barzilai, the 25-year-old former reality TV contestant, has just struck a deal with S-Curve Records/BMG for her quirky Eurovision-winning song. ‘Toy’ has generated 61 million hits on YouTube and upwards of 13 million plays on Spotify.

The article was originally published on The Industry Observer

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