More than 16,500 people in Iceland, and rising, have recently signed an online petition to withdraw from the next Eurovision contest that will be held in Israel in 2019. Further, the Icelander who made Eurovision matter to Icelanders – Páll Óskar – has also expressed the desire for Iceland to boycott Eurovision.
The petition was started by Icelander Árni St. Sigurðsson just after news broke about the recent massacre in Gaza, and the petition is directed at national broadcasters RÚV, which oversees the Icelandic participation in Eurovision.
“Following the human rights violation perpetuated by Israel towards the Palestinian nation it is unethical for us to participate in such a glamorous competition like Eurovision in the shadow of Israel’s violence against their neighbours,” reads a statement under the petition. “In the past few months, the State of Israel has killed dozens individuals just for protesting the situation.”
Israel’s victory at Eurovision, and the subsequent news that next year’s contest will be held in Jerusalem, has also been criticised by The Association Iceland-Palestine as a crucial step in denying Palestinians their human rights.
“The Association mourns the fact that Europe has not stood with human rights tonight, but has instead chosen to hold the next Eurovision contest in Israel,” reads a statement from the association. “At the same time, the Israeli government interferes with international laws and conducts land robbery, human rights abuses and repeated violence against Palestinians.”
On the 70th anniversary of Nakba, the day when countless Palestinians were forced out of their homes following the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, a gathering was held yesterday in Austurvöllur, in front of the Icelandic Parliament. Palestinians all over the world did the same.
The President of the Association, Sveinn Rúnar Hauksson, was not the only one to speak against the decision. Sema Erla Serdar, founder of humanitarian aid organisation Solaris, has called the situation “disgusting,” while Þórunn Ólafsdóttir, founder of humanitarian aid organisation Akkeri, invited Icelandic musicians to stand together and boycott the Eurovision.
Baldur Þórhallsson, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, also took to Facebook to stress that while it is appropriate to criticise Israeli authorities we should also remember not to judge all Israelis by the decisions of their government.
So far, it seems like Iceland will indeed be participating in the Eurovision contest today, as RÚV program manager Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson told Morgunblaðið yesterday. “Our participation is never a given—we’ll notify the public in autumn like we always do,” Skarphéðinn said. “At this stage everything is taken into account, and we have yet to have a meeting about this.”
Despite his rather neutral comments, however, Skarphéðinn also added that “we can strongly assume that we will take part in Eurovision next year like we do every year.”