Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Palestinian Eurovision alternative asks viewers to ‘dare to dream together’

The Bethlehem event will be held at the same time as the song contest final and streamed around the world

epa07572741 Israeli soldiers keep watch during a protest by Palestinians to mark the 71st anniversary of Nakba or catastrophe in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 15 May 2019. Nakba Day, or Day of the Catastrophe, which is marked on 15 May to commemorate the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their land in the war surrounding the establishment of the state of Israel. EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN
epa07572741 Israeli soldiers keep watch during a protest by Palestinians to mark the 71st anniversary of Nakba or catastrophe in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 15 May 2019. Nakba Day, or Day of the Catastrophe, which is marked on 15 May to commemorate the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their land in the war surrounding the establishment of the state of Israel. EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN

The slogan of this year’s Eurovision song competition hosted by Israel asks viewers to “Dare to Dream.”

Palestinian activists are planning an alternative with a direct focus on Israel’s occupation and a different challenge: “Dare to Dream Together.”

The alternative event, called Globalvision, will be held on Saturday and streamed around the world at the same time as the Eurovision finals in Tel Aviv.

No European channels are carrying the event but organisers will be streaming concerts and parties online from London, Dublin, the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, and the Palestinian culture centre, Haifa, in northern Israel.

“We meet to celebrate our diversity; the most flamboyant fashion, the great [and terrible] lyrics, and the best and worst of singers,” the group’s Facebook page reads.

“So this year watch Globalvision – a stage for Palestinian artists to shine, and for Israeli and global Eurovision fans to join them in saying no to art-washing, no to military occupation, and yes to the right of all refugees to return.”

Palestinian performances at Globalvision will include rapper Mahmoud Jrere from the hip-hop trio Dam, Bashar Murad, an openly gay singer from Jerusalem, and Rasha Nahas, a Haifa-born and Berlin-based musician.

Globalvision will conclude a week of direct actions by pro-Palestinian activists targeting Eurovision events in Tel Aviv.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has called on performers and fans to boycott this year’s event in protest against Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land and treatment of Palestinians.

The Israeli anti-occupation group, Breaking the Silence, has organised four trips to the West Bank city of Hebron this week for interested tourists or residents.

So far, no performers or companies have cancelled their participation.

Madonna, who is scheduled to perform at the finals on Saturday night in Tel Aviv, rejected calls to boycott the event.

"I'll never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be,” she said, with no reference to Palestinians.

The European Broadcasting Union, which airs Eurovision, has a strict policy of no politics on stage.

Of the 42 countries participating, Iceland’s entry – an anti-capitalist “techno-dystopia” band – has expressed the most criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestinians, which they likened to apartheid.

The band, Hatari, has made it to the semi-finals and have repeatedly stressed they would not touch on politics during the live broadcast.

Just under two weeks ago, Israelis and Palestinians feared the outbreak of another war in Gaza, after the bloodiest fighting since the 2014 war killed more than 20 Palestinians and Israelis.

The threat of war may not have deterred some fans, but the high cost of tickets and hotels has reportedly put a dent in profits for restaurants, bars, and cafe owners.

Tourists aren’t spending as much as expected at Tel Aviv’s dining businesses, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Updated: May 17, 2019 04:12 AM

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