Despite calls for an international boycott, SBS has maintained that it will broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, which is to be held in Israel next year.
The contest is set to be hosted in Tel Aviv – 70 kilometres from the Gaza border, where the Israeli military murdered more than 200 protesters this year. The event was planned for occupied East Jerusalem, where Israel has made an aggressive push to assert a territorial claim over the city. The retreat to Tel Aviv was the first significant victory for the boycott campaign.
The Australian wing of the international boycott, led by BDS Australia, has demanded that SBS not participate in “artwashing” Israeli apartheid.
Staff at Irish broadcaster RTE have won the right not to work on its coverage of the contest, another victory for the boycott and a good precedent for the campaign here in Australia.
BDS Australia launched the boycott in October, with more than a thousand responses to a petition directed at SBS management. But SBS responded by threatening BDS Australia with legal action for using the SBS logo in its online campaign and leaflet.
Undeterred, BDS Australia protested outside SBS studios in Artarmon, Sydney, on 15 November, to raise awareness among staff about the Boycott Eurovision campaign and to continue to call on management not to cover the contest and to end its legal threats. Several staff expressed support for the boycott, requesting leaflets and chatting about the importance of Palestinian human rights. Hilmi Dabbagh, an activist with BDS Australia, said:
“We are very happy that so many SBS staff showed interest in Palestinians’ human rights, but so far it’s business as usual for SBS management and their partner Blink TV. Our campaign – with those in every Eurovision country except Israel – will continue to pressure broadcasters to put Palestinians’ human rights ahead of their advertising revenue.
“We will be reminding SBS viewers that just 70 kilometres from the Eurovision venue, unarmed protesters are being murdered at the Gaza fence for daring to challenge the never ending siege and a future of forever being refugees.”