Eurovision tells us everything about Europe's 'vision' for Palestinians: acquiescence

Eurovision tells us everything about Europe's 'vision' for Palestinians: acquiescence
6 min read
13 May, 2019
Comment: Eurovision is being hosted by an apartheid state, writes Randa Abdel-Fattah.
Israel's Netta Barzilai, the winner of last year's Eurovision, rehearses for this years' contest [AFP]
This year will go down in history as the year artists and musicians from around the world, including my own country - Australia, celebrated a concert hosted by the 21st century's apartheid state. 

It will be remembered as an event that mixed kitsch entertainment with Palestinian blood and suffering.

Eurovision's twitter account is adorned with upbeat hashtags (#DaretoDream) and a thread roll of performers and entertainers tweeting merrily about their rehearsals and participation in the upcoming show.

Prominent on Eurovision's profile are the following words: "The world's biggest music entertainment show is being hosted this year in Tel Aviv!"

The exclamation mark says it all really. It perfectly represents the grammar in which we speak to, and about Israel. Israel can rain down deadly airstrikes on the population it collectively imprisons, blockades and besieges in Gaza a few miles away and less than a month before the event, but crimes against humanity can seemingly be punctuated away.

And so this year will surely go down in history as the year Eurovision transformed from a spectacle of the zany and eccentric to a spectacle of the grotesque.

Eurovision is being hosted by a state which aimed its airstrikes at Gazan schools and residential buildings, killing women, children and young men. A state which has since the beginning of this year killed more than 270 Palestinian protesters, injured 17,021 and shot 6,000 in the leg.

Seventy-one years on, Palestinians will mourn the Nakba while the world will sing and party with Israel

And yet, in my twitter feed, an Australian performer unashamedly tweets her selfies and gushing platitudes of excitement about her upcoming participation.

My country's national "multicultural" broadcaster is televising the concert and has 
ignored calls by Australian BDS advocates to heed Palestinian calls for a cultural boycott.

In response to growing 
global calls for a cultural boycott of Eurovision, last month prominent celebrities signed a letter condemning the boycott call, describing it as an "attack" on Eurovision's apparent "spirit of togetherness". 

Just two days ago, Palestinian artists and cultural centres in Gaza were compelled to issue yet another plea for solidarity, asking "the world" to refuse Israel's "whitewashing" of its crimes. And still, Eurovision - a festival of dehumanisation of Palestinians - continues.

As an Australian Palestinian I must confess I am numb.

That Israel is hosting Eurovision tells us everything about Europe and the western world's "vision" for Palestinians: acquiescence.

Accept your oppression, the theft and occupation of your land, the slow genocidal erasure of Gaza, the airstrikes and slaughter.

Do not envisage freedom, resistance, liberation.

Do not imagine we, the international community, will hold Israel to account for its defiance of international and human rights law.

Read more: Eurovision: Material Girl Madonna shuns Palestine solidarity

Do not hold a vision of us supporting your fight for self-determination and resistance, even when you call for a non-violent Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement modelled on the very strategy that brought down apartheid South Africa.

The vision those supporting Eurovision seek to impose on Palestine is crystal clear: Palestinians have no just cause. Palestinians are sub-human.

And should anyone be unclear about this message, simply reflect on the grotesque fact that Eurovision will coincide with the Palestinian Nakba on 15 May 2019.

Seventy-one years after the beginning of the dispossession, ethnic cleansing and terrorising of Palestinians, Israel will be the centre of attention.

But this moment will not see the world finally demand Israel comply with its obligations under international law and so support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Seventy-one years on, Palestinians will mourn the Nakba while the world will sing and party with Israel.

While people from around the world, including Australia, easily fly into Tel Aviv, Palestinians in the West Bank, a few miles away, are subject to military occupation and denied freedom of movement.

While Palestinians in Gaza mourn the lives just snubbed out, stand among the rubble of their homes, schools and neighbourhoods just destroyed, Israel will be given perhaps its most unequivocal free pass to murder and apartheid yet.

It will be remembered as an event that mixed kitsch entertainment with Palestinian blood and suffering

What is this, if not a traumatising reminder that Palestinians are not the human "human rights" speak for?

Time and time again, international human rights law, the United Nations, our own governments, instil the expectation of universality in us all, and yet deny this universality at the very moment they encourage us to claim it.

Eurovision is apparently about diversity, inclusion and unity. It's about "love". But Palestinians are served a brutal reminder that they are not part of the universal. They do not deserve love. They do not even deserve freedom. They must remain besieged, caged, occupied, fish in Israel's barrel while the rest of the world gets high on songs of love.

In her Eurovision song, Zero Gravity, Australian Kate Miller-Heidke, sings about a lock with no key. She sings about aching, about feeling low, "going where there's zero gravity", where she can be "free".

She will perform these lyrics while Palestinians ask the Australian broadcaster SBS, who Kate represents, and who ignored the boycott call: Where can Palestinians go to find this place of zero gravity? Where can they find freedom; the key to Israel's lock?

What is this, if not a traumatising reminder that Palestinians are not the human 'human rights' speak for?

I am numb. And I am trying to understand the bigger question here. Not, why does Palestinian suffering not matter? But rather, what kind of human is a Palestinian allowed to be? What kind of Palestinian will western "progressives" root for? Listen to? Sympathise with? Take notice of?

When a tried and tested global movement like BDS is denounced or flatly disregarded, one wonders what kind of freedom fighter a Palestinian is allowed to be? The very right to claim a just cause, to engage in a struggle for freedom and justice, is being denied.

Eurovision will be a watershed in the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom.

We are bearing witness to one of the most callous, grotesque global attempts to literally use music to drown out the screams and cries of an oppressed and terrorised population.

All those supporting Eurovision in Israel, are complicit. And the present and the future will bear witness that in seeking to dehumanise Palestinians, the only thing they #DaredtoDream, is their own inhumanity.

Randa Abdel-Fattah is a DECRA Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University researching the generational impact of the war on terror on post 9/11 youth and the award winning author of over 11 novels.

Follow her on Twitter: @RandaAFattah

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.