Swedish Cultural Figures Demand Israel Eurovision Boycott

Israel's singer Netta Barzilai aka Netta performs with the trophy after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (Photo by Francisco LEONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty

A total of 171 Swedish artists, musicians, and other “culture workers” have demanded Sweden boycott the upcoming Eurovision song contest because it is taking place in Israel.

The group advocated the boycott, accusing Israel of committing “crimes against the Palestinian people,” and alleging the country denies fundamental rights to Palestinians in an article published by newspaper Aftonbladet this week.

“We Swedish artists and cultural workers who sign this call can not quietly see how Israel uses the Eurovision Song Contest to hide their crimes against the Palestinian people,” they said.

“As long as Israel, with its apartheid policy, denies the Palestinians their basic human rights, so long we must renounce Israeli participation in cultural exchanges,” they added.

The letter also highlighted the 62 Palestinians who died in May 2018, shortly after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won last year’s Eurovision contest in Lisbon, Portugal.

According to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), at least 24 of those killed during last May’s Gaza riots had been members of terrorist groups including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Several U.S. celebrities also condemned the IDF at the time including former Netflix talk show host Chelsea Handler who claimed that none of the rioters had any weapons at the time.

The riots were a reaction to the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, where the Eurovision contest is set to take place, to Jerusalem.

Some countries, such as Australia, blamed terror group Hamas directly for the deaths. Australia’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commented, “Any loss of life like this is tragic in circumstances like this, but Hamas’s conduct is confrontational. They’re seeking to provoke the Israeli defence forces.”

This is not the first time Sweden has come into conflict with Israel.

In 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström over comments the latter had made following deaths of Palestinians by IDF forces during a wave of violence in late 2015.

Previously, Wallström had cancelled a trip to Israel which was officially stated as a scheduling conflict but was later revealed that no Israeli officials wanted to meet with her due to her previous comments.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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