Words: Steve Brown
British celebrities and cultural figures have called for the BBC to cancel airing the Eurovision Song Contest this year because it is being held in Israel.
As tradition, the annual singing competition is set to be held in the country which won the year before and Israel stormed to the crown last year with Netta.
But now, as the UK sets to select its entry through a public vote on BBC2 on February 8 on the show Eurovision: You Decide, British cultural figures including Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel, Mike Leigh, Miriam Margoyles, Declan McKenna and Maxine Peake have signed a letter calling for the BBC to cancel airing the show.
The letter - which was published by The Guardian - criticises Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territories and reads: “Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.
“The BBC is bound by its charter to ‘champion freedom of expression’. It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.
“For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honour. They and the BBC should consider that You Decide is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot ‘decide’ to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “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 host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC.”