9 Eurovision contestants urge ‘immediate Gaza ceasefire, hostage return,’ reject boycott

UK’s Olly Alexander, who has accused Israel of ‘genocide,’ says quitting the event ‘wouldn’t bring us any closer to our shared goal’

British singer and actor Olly Alexander arrives for the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, on March 6, 2022. (Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
British singer and actor Olly Alexander arrives for the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, on March 6, 2022. (Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

A group of nine participants in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest released a joint statement Friday expressing their concern over “the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and particularly in Gaza, and in Israel.”

“We do not feel comfortable being silent,” they said in the statement, following calls for artists to boycott Eurovision over Israel’s participation.

The contest will be held May 7-9 in Malmo, Sweden, with Israel’s Eden Golan performing “Hurricane,” widely perceived as being about the Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023.

In the statement, representatives of the UK, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Switzerland, Denmark, Lithuania and Finland said: “It is important to us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and communicate our heartfelt wish for peace, an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages. We stand united against all forms of hate, including antisemitism and islamophobia.

“We firmly believe in the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections,” they said. “We feel that it is our duty to create and uphold this space, with a strong hope that it will inspire greater compassion and empathy.”

The UK’s Olly Alexander put out a separate statement on Instagram, saying he “understands and respects” the decision of those boycotting Eurovision, but won’t do so himself.

“It is my current belief that removing myself from the contest wouldn’t bring us any closer to our shared goal,” he said. “I hope and pray that our calls are answered and there is an end to the atrocities we are seeing taking place in Gaza.”

Alexander’s statement also came in response to a specific appeal by the organization Queers for Palestine to withdraw from the competition.

Prior to his selection to represent the UK, actor and singer Alexander accused Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza, where the Jewish state has been fighting Hamas and other armed terror groups since October 7, with some 130 hostages still held captive by Gaza terrorists.

Jewish groups in the UK urged the BBC in December to drop Alexander due to his endorsement of the claim in October.

Malmo is preparing to host the contest under high security amid protests over Israel’s participation. With a large share of Sweden’s Palestinian community living in Malmo, the conflict between Israel and Hamas has added an extra dimension to the city’s Eurovision preparations.

Israel revealed its song earlier this month, capping weeks of uncertainty over its participation in the annual song contest.

“Hurricane,” which the Kan public broadcaster says is about a woman experiencing a personal crisis, keeps some of the lyrics from “October Rain,” Israel’s original submission which was disqualified by organizers over charges it was too political.

“Look into my eyes and see/ People look away but never say goodbye,” sings Golan in the new song. “Every day I’m losing my mind/ Holding on in this mysterious ride/ Dancing in the storm/ I’ve got nothing to hide/ Take it all and leave the world behind/ Baby promise me you’ll hold me again/ I’m still broken from this hurricane.”

The song is largely in English, except for a few Hebrew lines at the end, which translate to: “We don’t need grandiose words/ Just prayers/ Even though it’s hard to see/ You always leave a small light for me.”

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