Israeli Minister Invites Arab Countries to Join 2019 Eurovision Contest in Jerusalem

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

TEL AVIV – Israel’s Communications Minister has invited several Arab states to take part in next year’s Eurovision song contest set to take place in Jerusalem.

Israeli singer Netta Barzilai celebrated a landslide victory at the 63rd Eurovision song contest earlier in the month. Her song “Toy” has racked up more than 70 million views on the internet.

Israel’s Channel Two quoted Communications Minister Ayoub Kara as saying, “We will invite Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and also Tunisia to take part in the Eurovision contest. Why not? If they just request it.”

However, as Channel Two noted, despite Kara’s overture, those countries are unlikely to be permitted to enter the contest.

Eurovision’s rules stipulate that participating countries must be members of the European Broadcasting Union, which are co-sponsors of the event. While there are several Arab countries that are members of the EBU, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Lybia, Tunisia, and Morocco, most of the Gulf states Kara mentioned are not. In addition, those Arab states that are EBU members have in the past refused to participate alongside Israel.

Meanwhile in a separate incident in the Netherlands, Dutch public broadcaster BNNVARA has received criticism for airing a spoof of “Toy” using anti-Semitic tropes, JTA reported. “The Sanne Wallis Show” aired a song by a comedian of the same name which included lyrics that criticize Israel for, among other things, its treatment of Palestinians in the recent border riots.

“We’re giving a party, are you coming? Soon at the Al Aqsa Mosque, it’s standing there empty anyway,” the song says alongside footage of Arab riots on the Gaza border.

“Look how beautiful, I’m throwing bombs, Israel again wins, 70 years already the party’s on,” the lyrics also read. And: “No way, no Palestinian’s coming in.” The video also has a Netta impersonator singing, “I hunt Palestinians through the curtains.”

And in a line that came under fire for being overtly anti-Semitic: “If your party’s crashed, make sure you cash on embassies, with your ka-ching, ka-ching and your ping-a-ping, with your dollars and cents and your funds, with your ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching .”

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) slammed the broadcaster.

“You start with Israel and end with what? Jews and money. You made your point, BNNVARA,” CIDI wrote on Twitter. The watchdog added cynically that the performance was “full of ‘hilarious’ jokes about Jews and money and so on. So funny.”

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