Israel’s hosting and participation in 2019 Eurovision faces uncertain future

June 19, 2018 by Yona Schnitzer - TPS
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with  Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Culture Minister Miri Regev and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara on Monday, following reports that the European Broadcasting Union could move the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest from Israel to Austria.

Neta Barzilay Photo: Eitan Elhadez/TPS

Furthermore, Israel may be facing a complete ousting from the competition, should the Israeli government’s 2017 decision to split the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation into two separate entities, one focusing on content and the other providing news services, be carried out. Should the decision be implemented as planned, the IPBC may no longer be eligible for membership in the EBU.

“We are not aware of any public service media organization that operates the news in a totally separate entity with a separate governance,” EBU Director General Noel Curran explained in a letter sent to IPBC Chairman Gil Omer on Thursday, “In the event that the Supreme Court were to uphold Amendment 8 to the Israeli Public Broadcasting Law (2014), thereby placing news in a separate entity and depriving IPBC of editorial control, the EBU may have reservations about memberships on that basis and a new membership application will be required and subject to a thorough reexamination by all the EBU governing bodies to ensure IPBC would be capable of adhering to PSM’s core values,” he added.

Today’s special meeting will discuss the previous decision to split the IPBC, and the minister’s are set to pursue a solution that would not require them to forfeit Israel’s right to host the song competition following Neta Barzilay victory in May with her song TOY.

Aside from the technical issues with the IPBC’s eligibility for membership in the EBU, the Eurovision board has also expressed concerns that Israeli politicians are using the song contest for their own political gain. Last week, it was reported that the EBU has informed the IPBC, that while it has no immediate objection to the competition being held in Jerusalem, attempts by Israeli politicians to turn hosting the competition into a political statement are creating difficulties.

“We have no issue with Jerusalem [hosting the competition], as long as it holds up to the professional requirements. We’ve broadcasted from there in the past, and as far as we are concerned, we can do it again,” the EBU was reported to have told the IPBC, adding that “your politicians are creating a problem for us, as they are emphasizing that fact and are turning it into a political matter, they’re sending us letters with demands, and by doing so, are drawing pressure to us from various organizations that do not want us to broadcast from Jerusalem. Israel’s ministers must stay away from the event.”

Despite the EBU’s warning, Culture Minister Miri Regev, who has tried repeatedly called to condition funding for the arts on the political message they embody, has reportedly demanded that the recorded segments between each song in the 2019 Eurovision be approved by her ministry, or they will not be funded. To justify her demands, Regev gave the example of the segment filmed in Israel for the 2018 competition, where the Arab-Israeli Lucy Ayoub presented Israel’s vote results, greeting viewers in both Hebrew and Arabic, without mentioning Jerusalem. According to Regev, that decision was testament of “poor judgement on behalf of the IPBC.”

“The Culture Minister has no intention of intervening with content,” a statement from Regev’s ministry read, “That being said, the minister has her position clear – the Eurovision is an opportunity to show the beautiful and diverse face of Israeli society during the broadcasted segments between the competing songs. Furthermore, coordination between the IPBC and the government, who are investing public funds in the competition and IPBC, is required.”

Following Regev’s actions, Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin organized a petition, in which MKs from across the political spectrum demanding that Prime Minister Netanyahu bar Regev from intervening in the Eurovision.

“Respectfully, the Eurovision is not the Culture Minister’s or any other politician’s toy,” Nahmias-Verbin stated. “It belongs to Israel and its citizens,” she added.

Nahmias-Verbin’s petition comes on the heels of Argentina’s national soccer team canceling a friendly match with Israel two weeks ago, which critics put down to Regev’s insistence that the match be held in Jerusalem rather than Haifa.

Comments

2 Responses to “Israel’s hosting and participation in 2019 Eurovision faces uncertain future”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    Both Israel and Australia and a few other entries in the past from West Asia and North Africa are not part of Europe.

    I liked Eurovision more when Australia was not in it as good as our four entities have been so far.

  2. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    The post holocaust honeymoon with the Jews/Israel is over.
    Historical Jew baiting albeit clothed in other “garments” is back.
    We should not labour under any misapprehension or delusion.

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