May 23, 2019

Guess Who's Not Coming to Eurovision?

“Europe is currently struggling to redefine its ties to Britain and chafing over its rapport with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. But the continent’s most complicated relationship may be with Israel. Many Israelis still view Europe as a fount of anti-Semitism, generally latent but sometimes blatant. And many Europeans consider Israel’s long military rule over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to be one of the world’s ugliest human rights violations. All of these tensions could peak in May, when Israel hosts Europe’s annual pop song competition, Eurovision.

An extravaganza of glitz and camp, Eurovision was established 63 years ago by an association of European public broadcasters as a way to knit Western Europe together during the Cold War. Over the years, it has grown to include dozens of countries and been a launchpad for international pop acts including Sweden’s ABBA and Céline Dion, who represented Switzerland.

Israel made its Eurovision debut in 1973; although not technically European, it was able to join because the Israel Broadcasting Authority was already a member of the European Broadcasting Union. Since then, the contest has held a special place in the Israeli imagination, and Israel has won four times.”

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