Eurovision 2019 participants began arriving in Israel to tour the country just as rockets were falling from Gaza. But according to the organizers, the show will go on as scheduled in Tel Aviv on May 18.
“We continue to work alongside KAN (the Israeli broadcaster) and the Home Front Command to safeguard the well-being of everyone working in and joining us at Expo Tel Aviv,” said Jon Ola Sand, the executive producer of the song contest. “We will continue to closely monitor the current situation and rehearsals will continue as normal.”
Sand said there is no “good replacement for Eurovision in Tel Aviv: That’s where we want to be, and it’s what we’re working towards.”
The contest has never been canceled or move since it was first held in 1956, but if rockets were falling on Tel Aviv the show would not go on!
The contest is under scrutiny though by religious parties in Israel who are threatening to back out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition after learning that permits were issued to Jewish Israelis to work at the Eurovision contest on Shabbat.
“A light trigger-finger to issue thousands of permits to work on Shabbat is shocking,” said ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party co-chair Moshe Gafni.
Jewish law prohibits work on Shabbat, however there are exceptions. Nevertheless, the Shabbat work issue has toppled a previous government in Israel. In 1976 a Friday afternoon ceremony ran late and attendees had to travel home after sundown in violation of the Sabbath. That led to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin resigning and the country going to elections.
UTJ was expected to be a significant member of Netanyahu’s next coalition.
“In the current situation it is impossible to continue (negotiations). We will not remain silent about the desecration of Shabbat,” Gafni said. “We informed them (Likud) that what was there would be no more.”
Netanyahu is attempting to build a right-wing coalition of 65 seats including his own Likud party (35 seats) and United Torah Judaism which has 8 seats, among others.