Eurovision stars say they can’t be silent but reject calls for boycott over Israel

LONDON — A group of artists set to compete in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest said Friday they “do not feel comfortable being silent” in light of the ongoing Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, but stopped short of heeding growing calls for a boycott of the music competition over Israel’s participation.

The joint statement — from the entrants who will represent Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — comes a little more than a month before this year’s edition of the pop extravaganza in May. The competition is being held in the Swedish city of Malmo, which said earlier this month that it was prepared for possible protests.
The presence of Israel, which is competing with the song “Hurricane” by Eden Golan, has loomed over the buildup to the competition and fueled calls for the country to be kicked out of the contest. However, the European Broadcasting Union, which runs the event, has allowed Israel to participate after changing the title and lyrics of its entry, which were originally deemed to violate the contest’s rules about remaining nonpolitical.

“We want to begin by acknowledging the privilege of taking part in Eurovision. In light of the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and particularly in Gaza, and in Israel, we do not feel comfortable being silent,” the artists’ joint statement said. “It is important to us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and communicate our heartfelt wish for peace, an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages. We stand united against all forms of hate, including antisemitism and islamophobia.”


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