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Swedish Artists Protest Israel's Eurovision Inclusion
Christian Eede , January 31st, 2024 17:41

Fever Ray, Robyn and more than 1000 other artists from the Scandinavian country have signed an open letter that says Israel's involvement "trivialises violations of international law"

More than 1000 Swedish musicians and performers have signed an open letter protesting Israel's inclusion in 2024's Eurovision Song Contest.

This year's Eurovision final is set to be held in the city of Malmö on May 11 after Sweden's entrant, Loreen, won 2023's event. A number of the country's musicians – including the likes of Fever Ray, Robyn, Peder Mannerfelt, DJ Seinfeld and First Aid Kit – believe Israel should not be allowed to participate this year, however, amid the Israeli Government's ongoing assault on the Palestinian territory of Gaza, and the impact it is having on civilians there.

Published in Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, the open letter says that by allowing Israel to participate, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises Eurovision, "is exhibiting a remarkable double standard that undermines the organisation's credibility".

It continues: "The fact that countries that place themselves above humanitarian law are welcomed to participate in international cultural events trivialises violations of international law and makes the suffering of the victims invisible."

The EBU responded by announcing that Israel would not be excluded from the competition, emphasising the event's apolitical status and arguing that it was merely a contest between public service broadcasters rather than nation states.

Countries have been excluded from participating in Eurovision due to political matters in recent years, however. The EBU banned Russia from taking part in 2022 amid the country's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and said allowing the nation to enter "would bring the competition into disrepute". The EBU also expelled Belarus from participating in the event in 2021 after arguing that state broadcaster BTRC had violated press freedom rules.

The Swedish artists' open letter follows a similar recent campaign against Israel's inclusion in Eurovision, which was organised by artists from Finland and Iceland. That collective argued that "a country that commits war crimes and continues a military occupation" should not be allowed "to polish its image in the name of music".

Israel has participated in Eurovision since 1973, and won the competition four times in total – most recently in 2018.

Gaza's Ministry of Health says more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the territory since the Israeli Government launched its latest assault on the area in response to Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel, which killed at least 1,139 Israelis.

In January, the United Nations' International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide by military forces in Gaza and demanded that its forces not commit any of the acts covered by the genocide convention.