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Israeli state broadcaster uses Eurovision promo videos to market occupied territories as ‘Israel’

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Israel is using its hosting of the Eurovision song contest not merely for general culture-washing of various kinds, but for explicit political propaganda branding Palestinian and Syrian occupied territories as “Israel”.

The Israeli public broadcaster Kan has released the list of countries participating in Eurovision and the respective locations in which their introduction “postcard” videos were filmed. These videos will be shown before each team’s performance.   

These locations include:

Albania – Nature Reserve Banias

Romania – Mount Hermon

Serbia – Ein Zivan

These locations are in the occupied Syrian Jolan (Golan). No country in the world recognizes these territories as “Israel” except USA, where President Trump last march decided to recognize it as “Israel”, in a move widely seen as strategic in aiding Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent election victory.

On it goes:

Belarus – Rockefeller Archaeological Museum (Jerusalem)

Russia – Tower of David (Jerusalem)

These locations are in occupied East Jerusalem. Once again, international law does not recognize this as “Israel”, but USA broke with it last year, where Trump made his “recognition” gesture a year ago in moving US Embassy to Jerusalem, with Guatemala following suit.

Israel unilaterally annexed Jerusalem and the Syrian Jolan in flagrant violation of international law and has cemented them in official law.

It is important to note, that Kan has already been under scrutiny for possible political provocation in terms of featuring occupied territory as Israel, under the notion of keeping the Eurovision supposedly apolitical. Thus, Kan took an official decision to avoid filming in “Judea and Samaria” – the Israeli term for the occupied Palestinian West Bank.  

Minister of Culture Miri Regev was actually very upset about that decision, and said that Kan made “a big mistake”. Kan responded to Regev’s fury, saying:

“We are glad that the postcards are of great interest and that people are confident that they will show the world a wide variety of interesting places in Israel”

And emphasized:

The Eurovision Song Contest is by no means a political event. 

Alas, by international law, East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank. Kan is thus anyway filming in “Judea and Samaria”, although it’s pretending not to. The claim of East Jerusalem being part of the “united capital” by Israeli Basic Law (1981, and also recent Nation State law), is only an Israeli claim, and it is “null and void” by international law represented in UN Security Council resolutions.

Likewise, the Israeli annexation of the Syrian Jolan is illegal, and Kan is filming in occupied territory which it markets as “Israel”.

The game between Kan and Regev is thus a mere good-cop-bad-cop, where she wants more occupied territory to be filmed, and Kan cunningly plays the “apolitical”, nonetheless providing political propaganda, only with a bit less territorial claim than Regev had wished. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Israeli Eurovision is a highly political event, and it is now being explicitly used for advancing state-criminality, with the complicity of the countries participating. They are now all accountable.

H/t Annar Follesø

Update: I reached out to the the European Broadcasting Union and the Eurovision Song Contest for comment on this. A mail received states:


The Eurovision Song Contest is a long running non-political, entertainment event which is designed to bring audiences and countries together. To this end, the EBU and the host broadcaster take all necessary steps to safeguard the non-political character of the event throughout the organization of the competition.

Many Thanks,

ESC Press Team


Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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3 Responses

  1. Misterioso on May 15, 2019, 10:45 am


    “She Canada” magazine features Ahed Tamimi on its cover.

  2. Maghlawatan on May 17, 2019, 1:06 pm

    “the Eurovision has twice been staged not just in Israel but in the contested city of Jerusalem, in 1979 and 1999, without a major European campaign for a boycott.
    This makes it all the more striking that the EBU overruled the intentions of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to make Jerusalem again the host city this year. It did so because of a growing wariness of Netanyahu’s intentions and an implicit acceptance that nothing to do with Israel can now be nonpolitical, even the Eurovision.

    Israel has said it will block activists who plan to disrupt the Eurovision Song Contest from entering the country, as anxiety mounts that the event, watched by a global TV audience, will become a focus for protests against the country’s treatment of the Palestinians.”

    I gotta feeling that something special will happen tomorrow night

  3. just on May 17, 2019, 3:13 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan.

    Ali Abunimah has a related article up:

    “Eurovision defends “Greater Israel” logo

    The organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest are defending their use of an official logo which appears to represent all of historic Palestine – including the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip – as part of Israel.

    In a letter to the Palestinian Authority foreign ministry on Wednesday, the European Broadcasting Union states that there was nothing intentional about the logo that depicts a stylized outline of historic Palestine – or “Greater Israel” as Zionists label it – including occupied territory that Israel is moving to annex in flagrant violation of international law.

    “This year’s logo, created by host broadcaster Kan, comprises three triangles which, when united, shine together to create a form complementing the slogan, ‘Dare to Dream,’” the European Broadcasting Union claims in its letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Electronic Intifada.

    “It takes inspiration from the stage design which also involves triangles on and above the stage.”

    Wiping Palestinians off the map

    PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, has accused Eurovision of trying to “wipe Palestinians off the map with its logo.” …”
    In another article by Tamara Nassar:

    “Eurovision celebrates as Palestinians mourn expulsion

    … Low turnout

    Yet despite Israel’s strenuous efforts, turnout at this year’s Eurovision was dramatically lower than last year in Lisbon.

    Israeli media insisted that low turnout has been largely due to high costs of visiting Tel Aviv, but more than 150,000 people have signed petitions across Europe to boycott the concert.

    Tel Aviv’s restaurants and bars have not received the wave of tourists they expected, and business is reportedly lower than at the same time last year.

    Thousands of tickets remain unsold despite the Eurovision finale coming up this Saturday.

    Kan, the Israeli public broadcaster producing the event in Tel Aviv, is reportedly facing huge financial losses.

    Earlier this week, Kan published a video in a last-ditch attempt to lure more tourists.

    The video contains anti-Semitic and sexist language – for example “most of us are Jews but only some of us are greedy” – and calling on tourists to “enjoy our lovely bitches.”

    A Kan presenter appears in the video wearing an “I love the Iron Dome” T-shirt, referring to the US-funded missile system which Israel claims can intercept rockets from Gaza.

    This blatant political and military messaging violates Eurovision rules.

    In further politicization, Kan offered free admission to Israelis who live within 25 miles from the Gaza Strip as a “sign of support and appreciation” after the flare-up between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions earlier this month.

    Israel killed more than 25 Palestinians in Gaza during the attack and destroyed dozens of commercial and residential buildings.

    Four people were killed in Israel as Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza responded to Israeli airstrikes with rockets.

    A ceasefire brought an end to the escalation before Eurovision, but many fear an Israeli attack after the contest finishes.

    Indeed, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy Michael Oren called for a major assault on Gaza after Eurovision: …”

    (See the tweets and read the full article at the link if you wish)

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