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BBC rejects calls to boycott Eurovision in Israel

(JNS) At a ceremony in Tel Aviv on Jan. 29, Israel officially received the “keys” to the Eurovision Song competition for 2019. The “insignia handover,” symbolized with the passing of a large decorated key chain, took place between Deputy Mayor of Lisbon Duarte Cordeiro and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Lisbon hosted the 2018 Eurovision contest. “I wish the greatest success to the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 and to this magnificent city,” Cordeiro said at the ceremony. “I’m sure it will be a huge party.” Huldai noted the appropriateness of the Eurovision slogan, “Dare to Dream,” for Tel Aviv, saying “Tel Aviv is the startup city in the startup nation,” and said his city was working to “make sure that the Eurovision this year will be the best show on earth in the coolest city in the world.”

On Jan. 29, a letter signed by 51 cultural figures, including Vivienne Westwood and Peter Gabriel, circulated calling on the BBC to boycott the Eurovision because it will be hosted in Israel. The letter said Israel is guilty of “systematic violation of Palestinian human rights,” including “land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces.”

However, a BBC spokesperson said the network would participate in the event, despite pressure. Said the spokesperson: “…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. A similar letter calling for a Guardian boycott of the Eurovision was signed in September by 140 figures, including Ken Loach and Roger Waters.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 is scheduled to be held at Expo Tel Aviv, the city’s convention center. The show will consist of two semi-finals on May 14 and May 16, with the final on May 18.

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