In the weeks leading up to the Eurovision Song Contest, Israel has been quietly engaging in a wide sweeping public relations campaign to counter international calls to boycott the event.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement – which seeks to “end the occupation” – has long pressured artists to cancel performances in Israel and, in recent months, has urged fans to boycott the Eurovision itself, set to take place in Tel Aviv this weekend.
Madonna, a recent target of the BDSers, who is set to perform in Tel Aviv this week, as part of the Eurovision festivities, said, “I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.” Hint, they exist in Gaza under the Hamas regime!
Israel’s ads appear to support BDS, but they actually link to a pro-Israel website which describes Israel as “Beautiful, Diverse, Sensational,” a play on the movement’s initials.
The ads link to boycotteurovision.net, a website which highlights Israel’s tourist sites, diversity, and even Tel Aviv’s gay pride week to show that Israelis are liberal and open-mindedness, not the cruel oppressors that BDS makes them out to be. To be clear, it also highlights some of the less exciting things about Tel Aviv form the viewpoint of a believer.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Artists Association called for a boycott of Eurovision, saying that Israel was using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime.”
Israel uncovered a BDS-backed network of bots and fake Twitter accounts urging a boycott of Eurovision in Tel Aviv. Twitter confirmed it suspended “a small network of accounts” in response to the Israeli complaint.
Israel singer Netta Barzilai won last year’s Eurovision earning Israel the honor of hosting the 2019 competition. Thousands of tourists are expected to arrive in Tel Aviv for the contest May 14-18.
Activists are expected to head to Israel to disrupt the Eurovision while Iceland’s Eurovision band has threatened to protest onstage. (However, they behaved themselves during their extremely bizarre performance last night.)
However, hackers did manage to take control of the live feed last night for two minutes.
“The hacked message replaced the campy song contest with a video of a forged warning from the Israel Defense Forces telling viewers within 1.2 kilometers of the Eurovision song contest venue in north Tel Aviv to seek shelter from an imminent rocket attack.” (timesofisrael.com)
It is unclear how many people actually saw the fake warning.
Never a dull moment in Israel!