Eurovision stars weigh politics and principles as calls for boycott over Israel grow

One of the biggest artistic competitions on Earth finds itself in the middle of a widening debate about if — and how — to address the ongoing war in Gaza

Protesters march against Israel's participation in the 2024 Eurovision contest
Protesters march against Israel's participation in the 2024 Eurovision contest
(Image credit: Fredrik Persson / TT News Agency / AFP / Getty)

Next month, viewers around the world will tune in for the 68th annual Eurovision song contest to watch performers from across Europe and beyond represent their respective nations in one of — if not the — premier musical competitions on Earth. Although for the time being Eurovision remains a fairly niche pastime in the United States, the contest's popularity across the Atlantic rivals professional sports with its sheer patriotic intensity. But for as much as the competition presents itself as a haven of good natured sonic schmaltz, the reality of the world outside Eurovision's concert hall cannot help but intrude. 

Last week, the Queers for Palestine advocacy group published an open letter signed by nearly 500 "queer artists, individuals and organisations" urging Olly Alexander, the British singer chosen to represent the U.K. next month in Malmo, Sweden, not to perform this year while Israel remains an entrant nation. To do so, the group claimed, would be to participate in an event that "provides cultural cover for an ongoing genocide" while Israel wages a bloody war in the Gaza Strip. Shortly after Alexander responded that by staying in the competition, he and his fellow participants can "use our platform and come together to call for peace." 

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