Belgian TV channel interrupts Eurovision broadcast with pro-Palestine message

Belgian TV channel interrupts Eurovision broadcast with pro-Palestine message
Israel's Eurovision entry Eden Golan responds to Palestine protests as she makes …

Belgium’s national broadcaster interrupted its coverage of the Eurovision Song Content semi-final to show a pro-Palestine message on Thursday night (May 9).

Israel’s participation in the content this year has been under scrutiny following the ongoing bombardment of Gaza by Israel. Crowds gathered outside the Malmö Arena on Thursday protesting their involvement in the competition.

The Eurovision Song Contest has always insisted it is ‘non-political’, despite taking the decision in 2022 to block Russia from competing over its illegal invasion of Ukraine. However, Israel being allowed to compete in the contest has sparked calls for a boycott of the event among Palestine supporters.

Belgium’s national public service broadcaster, VRT, interrupted its coverage on Thursday to condemn "human rights violations" by Israel.

Eden Golan is representing Israel this yearGetty Images

It came at the beginning of the show, before Israel had qualified for Saturday’s final.

People reposted the message on social media. It read: "This is a union action. We condemn the human rights violations of the Israeli state. Israel is also destroying the freedom of the press. That's why we temporarily interrupt the transmission. #CeaseFireNow #StopGenocideNow".

There were protests outside the Malmö Arena on Thursday, which overshadowed Israel contestant Eden Golan’s successful attempt to make it to Saturday’s final.

Swedish police estimate that between 10,000 to 12,000 people took part in the protest march, which was joined by climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Earlier this week, the EBU said that to exclude Israeli broadcaster Kan would be viewed as a “political decision”, insisting that the contest remains a “non-political event”.

Jean Philip De Tender, the deputy director general of the EBU, said: “I fully agree it is a family event and the great thing about this music competition is that it’s all about values. It’s about uniting onstage all of these young talents, these participants, and they do great. It’s about diversity and inclusion.

Discussing the backlash, he added: “We do understand the concerns and the deeply held views that many people have around the war in the Middle East and I think nobody can remain untouched by the profound suffering of everybody involved in that war.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a music event which is organised and co-produced by 37 public broadcasters, so it’s not a competition between nations or governments.”

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