Israel had hoped to use the Eurovision Song Contest to bolster its international image. We were there to remind the world that there is no business as usual with an occupying state.
By Tanya Rubinstein
Contrary to the forecasts, Tel Aviv was not flooded by tens of thousands of European tourists last week, when Israel hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, as was repeatedly promised over the last year. City leaders hastened to reassure residents that the reason for the relatively small number of visitors had absolutely nothing to do with politics. Instead, they said, it was all economic considerations: Tel Aviv is simply too expensive, and many Eurovision fans preferred to stay home.
We will never know how many deliberately avoided Tel Aviv for political reasons. We do know, however, that many of those who chose to come were exposed to the Palestinian struggle, the occupation, the siege on Gaza, and Israel’s systematic violation of the human rights.
This Eurovision will go down in history as yet another moment that made clear that Israel cannot continue acting as if it is a normal country that does normal things. Every single day last week, Israeli, Palestinian, and international activists held a number of actions inside and outside the Eurovision events, as well as in Tel Aviv, Gaza, Ramallah, and Haifa.
Activists from Israel-Palestine and from across the world organized protests, including the Palestinians who held an alternative song contest in various locations across the country, including in the destroyed village of Sheikh Muwannis — where Tel Aviv University now stands. Activists also held direct actions, a demonstration to commemorate last year’s massacre on the Gaza border, and protest outside the Eurovision finale.Read More