TEL AVIV – The Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday told fans to hold off booking flights for next year’s competition in Israel amid concerns about politicization following remarks by Israeli ministers.
“Are you already looking forward to next year’s #Eurovision? Us too! But don’t go booking your flights just yet, for official updates on where and when it’ll take place, keep an eye out for announcements on our official channels,” the post on the contest’s official Facebook page said.
A senior source in Israel’s public broadcaster Kan told the Haaretz newspaper that the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the song contest, was “very unhappy” with remarks made by Israeli ministers who both demanded their ministries be in charge of overseeing next year’s competition in Jerusalem.
Culture Minister Miri Regev and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, both from the ruling Likud party, made comments that were unauthorized by the competition organizers. As reported in Breitbart Jerusalem, Kara invited several Arab states to take part in next year’s contest in Jerusalem.
“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,” Kara said.
Eurovision’s rules stipulate that participating countries must be members of the European Broadcasting Union, which are co-sponsors of the event, and most of the countries Kara invited to participate are not.
“The decisions made by Regev and Kara before even hearing anything about Eurovision hosting are unacceptable for the Union members,” the source was quoted as saying.
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on Monday wrote a letter to Regev asking that her ministry refrain from desecrating Shabbat for the sake of Eurovision, which would take place on a Saturday night.
The chairman of the European Broadcasting Union committee responsible for Eurovision, Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling, responded by saying that the time would not change. The Sabbath, Freiling said, “cannot be really put into consideration with regards to viewers all over Europe,” Haaretz reported.
Israel was the host of the Eurovision Song Contest twice in the past, in 1979 and 1999.