By: Malina Saval, Variety
As Tel Aviv gears up for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, taking place in the coastal Israeli city May 14 through 18, the entertainment industry non-profit Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) has released a statement in support of the internationally-attended and globally-televised event, which promotes musical acts from all over the world.
The statement, signed by over 100 entertainment executives and personalities — among them: “The Talk” host Sharon Osborne, KISS’ Gene Simmons, music attorney Donald S. Passman, Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande managers Scooter Braun and Allison Kaye, Propagate Content chief Ben Silverman and WME co-founder and head of television Rick Rosen — comes in response to efforts by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which includes vocal supporters like Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame.
(Pictured below: Protesters outside London’s BBC demonstrate against the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest being held in Israel.)
“This year, approximately 200 million people will watch, visit and take part in the Eurovision song contest, celebrating music and the diversity of our different cultures,” said Ari Ingel, Director of CCFP. “The members of the entertainment industry who have signed this statement, along with the thousands of individuals who have endorsed its message, all believe in building bridges through music and the arts as a means to achieving greater understanding and peace in the region.”
Nearly 15,000 people from around the world signed a similar statement on Change.org, asserting that a cultural boycott of Eurovision does not work to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Additionally, the BBC released its own statement supporting the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel this year for its embodiment of the “values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance, and diversity.”
Israel won last year’s Eurovision contest held in Lisbon, Portugal with the song “Toy” by Netta Barzila. The quirky electronic tune, which features English lyrics and a scat-like vocal, claimed the country’s fourth victory in as many decades. Barzila, a singer who won the TV show “Hakokhav Haba,” Israel’s version of “American Idol” format, completed her mandatory military service in the navy band, called Nahal, and was accompanied by a military band during her performance in the grand finale.
It was Israel’s fourth time winning Eurovision after previous victories in 1978 and 1979, and in 1998 with trans performer Dana International.