Protesters gathered outside SBS’ Artarmon office on April 27 to urge the multicultural broadcaster to boycott Eurovision 2019, which will be held in Israel.
Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Australia and supporters are concerned that SBS’ support for the song contest will help the Israeli government perpetuate the fiction that all Israeli citizens have equal rights.
Israel is using Eurovision as part of its official Brand Israel strategy, which attempts to whitewash and distract attention from its many decades of suppression of Palestinian human rights.
Last year, Israel effectively declared itself an apartheid state by adopting a law that constitutionally denies Palestinian citizens of Israel equal rights with their neighbours.
Tel Aviv is due to host Eurovision in May, following Israeli singer Netta Barzilai’s win in the contest last year.
Palestinians and solidarity activists have told SBS that until Palestinians have equal rights it is unacceptable to participate in cultural events in Israel.
Placards carried by the protesters stated: “SBS: If Palestinians can’t attend Eurovision 2019, we don’t want to party”; “Dear SBS: Why aren’t you listening to Indigenous Palestinians?”; and “Dear SBS: Israel’s war crimes mean this year it’s not business as usual”.
BDS Australia convenor Hilmi Dabbagh told the gathering: “Australians respect SBS. But the Australian public also supports the creation of a Palestinian state.
“SBS, through its Indigenous channel NITV, has a special role in supporting Indigenous peoples. We ask the SBS board, will you support the meaning of the SBS Charter in opposing Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people?”
SBS’ charter commits it to “bring people and cultures together”.
Former SBS newsreader Mary Kostakidis, comedian Tom Ballard, Aboriginal artist Blak Douglas, hip hop artist L-FRESH The LION and musician Nick Seymour have expressed their support for the boycott campaign.
BDS Australia is also calling on Australian contestant Kate Miller-Heidke to withdraw from the song contest. A message from Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters appealing to Miller-Heidke to boycott Eurovision was played to the rally.
Prominent musicians who have refused to perform in Israel so far include: Lorde, Lauryn Hill, Chuck D, Massive Attack, Roger Waters, Patti Smith, Annie Lennox, Faithless, Brian Eno, The Pixies, Thurston Moore, Elvis Costello and Cat Power.
[Sign the petition call on SBS to Boycott Eurovision 2019 at bdsaustralia.good.do.]