From Iceland — An Open Letter To RÚV From The Iceland-Palestine Association

An Open Letter To RÚV From The Iceland-Palestine Association

Published May 28, 2024

An Open Letter To RÚV From The Iceland-Palestine Association
Photo by
Alma Bengtsson — EBU

Was Iceland’s participation in Eurovision really worth it?

It’s finally over. Months of mistakes, cringe-worthy PR attempts, relentless protest and a global boycott campaign, all while the European Broadcasting Union stubbornly attempted to carry on with business as usual amid a backdrop of genocide. And what a fitting end — symbolised by the Eurovision trophy shattering during the award ceremony.

Despite the global outcry against their participation in the annual song contest, Israel took the stage amidst accusations of genocidal warfare against Palestinians. Here in Iceland, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV) shrugged off calls from more than 500 musicians to refuse to share the stage with Israel and a petition from over 9,000 Icelanders demanding the same. While RÚV proceeded with the Icelandic Song Contest as usual, their only response to the public outcry was declaring that the decision about Iceland’s participation at the Eurovision Song Contest Malmö was ultimately up to the winner of the national competition.

This didn’t turn out to be true. When winning songwriter Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir announced that her conscience didn’t allow her to take the song to Malmö, RÚV was given another opportunity to align with the desires of the majority of Icelanders by abstaining from participation. They brushed it off, sending eager repeat Eurovision contender Hera Björk to Malmö without Ásdís

And for what? Iceland ended up in last place among all participants, while RÚV witnessed unprecedented low Eurovision viewership. Adding to the irony, while Iceland struggled through the semi-finals in Malmö, President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson opted to attend a counter-Eurovision concert in support of the Palestinian cause rather than tune in to his country’s lacklustre performance.

Eurovision always was, is and will be political, whether we like it or not.

So, was it all worth it? RÚV’s reputation has taken a hit, the delegation’s credibility has gone down the drain and companies have shied away from advertising slots, fearing association with Israel’s genocidal warfare. RÚV had a chance to take a stand for human rights, but instead turned a blind eye.

The tired excuse that Eurovision isn’t political doesn’t hold water anymore — everything from acts like Rybak to controversies involving t.A.T.u. proves otherwise. It’s time to stop pretending that Eurovision exists in some fairytale bubble untouched by reality. Genocide isn’t a footnote; it’s a glaring geopolitical issue that can’t be swept under the rug. Eurovision always was, is and will be political, whether we like it or not.

RÚV’s stance was nothing short of selfish. Turning a blind eye to human rights violations, it arrogantly presumed to dictate how Palestine should pursue its fight for freedom. The Icelandic delegation’s patronising notion of “talking it through” with Israel reeks of European powers’ condescending attempts to gaslight the global south. History will not treat our silence kindly. It will judge us harshly for allowing Israel to perpetuate 75 years of suppression, systematically erasing a nation while building its empire on the graves of innocent children. We must use this moment to galvanise support for human rights and accountability. It’s not enough to merely condemn injustice; we must actively work towards preventing it.

Let’s turn our outrage into action, advocating for policies and actions that promote justice and equality for all. Because ultimately, the true worth of our actions lies not in the past, but in the impact they have on shaping a better future for generations to come.

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