(JTA) – More than 100 artists and prominent people in the entertainment industry have denounced calls to boycott next month’s Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. Sharon Osbourne, Stephen Fry and Gene Simmons are among the signatories of of an open letter released April 30 saying that the “spirit of togetherness” embodied by the Eurovision “is under attack by those calling to boycott Eurovision 2019 because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division.” “We believe the cultural boycott movement is an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition,” it continued. The letter was organized by Creative Community For Peace, a nonprofit organization that aims to counter cultural boycotts of Israel. On Monday, Netta Barzilai, the Israeli singer who won the 2018 contest with her pop hit “Toy” – giving her nation the right to host this year’s competition – criticized calls for boycotting the event.
Calls to boycott the contest taking place in Israel have come from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, including musicians such as Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and British singer Peter Gabriel.
The Eurovision semifinals will be held in Tel Aviv on May 14 and 16, followed by the grand final on May 18.