The Scoop

Icelandic artists ask RÚV to boycott Eurovision in Israel

Yesterday, an Icelander called Árni St. Sigurðsson started an online petition to convince RÚV to boycott Eurovision Song Contest next year. In just one day the petition has reached close to 14 000 signatures, in a country of approximately 330 000 people. If it was UK, the same percentage would equal pretty close to 2.5 million! One of the supporters is Páll Óskar Hjálmtysson, who represented Iceland at the 1997 contest.

Páll Óskar’s facebook post

He has shared the petition on his Facebook, where he has also written a lengthy piece on the reasoning behing his decission to sign and share it.
In his facebook post he says that no matter how much he loves Eurovision, he believes the only right thing to do is to boycott the contest. And not just in Israel, but any time it’s hosted in countries that “break international law, violate human rights and commit bloody war crimes almost every day.” He also says that with our time’s easy access to information, anyone can learn about history of Israel, even people who, until now, haven’t had the slightest idea of how serious the situation on Gaza is. Continuing, he goes on to admit that he himself was one of those clueless people back in 1999, when Iceland participated in Eurovision in Israel last time they hosted it.

Not the first time

Many people will perhaps accuse Páll Óskar of being antisemittic or just one of those people who always critizices Israel, but history shows that this isn’t the case. Already back in 2012, Páll Óskar asked RÚV to boycott Eurovision in Baku, for exactly the same reasons.
Páll Óskar also says he found it embarrassing, listening to Netta’s thank you speach on Saturday.

She said: “Thank you for choosing different, thank you for accepting differences between us, thank you for celebrating diversity.” Would she be up for doing the same thing between Israel and Palestine, instead of taking selfies dressed in the uniform of the Israeli army? Who knows what she might have taken part in while serving in the army?”

Páll Óskar, on his facebook page

Encouraging RÚV to boycott ESC2019

He then writes a direct request to RÚV, and he sure doesn’t mince his words:

Dear RÚV. Use this opportunity to protest through your/our absence. We will not have any part in this celebration of denial. You see, entertainment, pop music and glamorous outfits  are very much political issues. Trying to separate politics and entertainment or sports is an excuse. Murdering children is in my opinion way beyond politics. Murdering children is inhumane.
Let’s boycott Eurovision 2019. RÚV can do great things with the money; more music, perhaps even our own Icelandic song contest Skipping one Eurovision is nothing compared to the Israeli genocide in Palestine. leikið efni sem og barnaefni á RÚV. Who wants to perform in Jerusalem with an ongoing blood bath right outside? Not me.

Support from Daði Freyr

However, Páll Óskar is not the only artist saying they think Iceland should boycott Eurovision next year. Daði Freyr, who most people will remember from last year’s Söngvakeppnin, where he finished second, is another. He has said that he along with his band, Gagnamagnið, was planning to submit a song next year. This is now completely out of the question, though. Earlier today he tweeted:

We can not see ourselves taking part in the Eurovision celebration with a clear consience while Israel and their army subject the Palestinians to the most horrible violence right next door.
We encourage RÚV to not participate.

Image; artist’s own

Ásdís María also joins in

Ásdís María, who participated in Söngvakeppnin 2014 with the wonderful song “Amor”, is another singer who says she wants RÚV to boycott next year’s contest. On her facebook she says that Eurovision is an arena for people to sing, enjoy themselves and forget their struggles. She then goes on to say:

Some things, however, shouldn’t be forgotten. Like 70 years of illegal Israeli occupation in Palestine.
I will not take part in Eurovision next year, neither with an entry nor as a viewer. I allow myself to hope that with enough pressure the authorities and RÚV will decide that Iceland will boycott the contest. That’s the hope. Let’s put pressure on the government so that they won’t allow Israel to beautify the bloodshed of Palestinian children on Icelandic TV-screens next year.

Also not mincing her words.
A lot of other well known and highly loved Icelandic artists support this point of view. Some years back, many of the most popular artists in Iceland released an album where they “donated” one song each, and all the proceedings went to the aid of children in the Palestinian occupied areas.
What is your opinion on this issue? Should Iceland, and perhaps other countries as well, boycott the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Israel? 

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