Jerusalem or Tel Aviv: the controversial organization of Eurovision in Israel

"Next time in Jerusalem! The final of Eurovision 2018 was not over as already these words of the Israeli winner Netta launched a controversy over the organization of the contest for the next edition. It is indeed the winning country to host the ceremony the following year, and it often does – but not always – in its capital.

Except that the case of Jerusalem is complicated, the city being claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. The UN, like many countries, does not recognize it as the capital of Israel, unlike Donald Trump, who recently transferred the US embassy, ​​previously in Tel Aviv. Seizing the opportunity of Eurovision – a true vector of soft power for the host country – to establish its sovereignty over the city, the Israeli government has pushed widely for Jerusalem to be designated as the host city of Eurovision 2019. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had even posted this wish in a tweet Congratulations to Netta.

Controversial video

Initially, Tel Aviv even announced that it did not want to submit an application to host the event. In the past, Jerusalem has already twice hosted the Eurovision, in 1979 and 1999. But faced with criticism and especially threats of boycott, the EBU (which oversees the competition) has kept the vagueness on the place organization of the competition. KAN, the Israeli broadcaster in charge of the organization this year, had to submit two applications to the EBU: the Jerusalem Arena and the Tel Aviv Exhibition Center. Unsurprisingly, it was finally Tel Aviv that was selected to host the contest, whose final will be held this Saturday, May 18th.

Enough to end the controversy? A KAN promotional video that featured Jerusalem as "our beloved capital" re-ignited hostilities within a week of the contest. The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced Israel's "propaganda content", ruling Eurovision "incompatible with the practices of colonialism and occupation". Not to mention the numerous calls to boycott those for whom it was inconceivable that the event be held in Israel, be it in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, in the current extremely tense situation in Gaza. No doubt Israel plays this year with Eurovision, more than any other country, a card important for its image by focusing on glitter to try to forget the rockets.

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