2019 Eurovision Song Contest – Songwashing occupation, discrimination, apartheid

Tel Aviv is to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

What’s Tel Aviv like?  This from Business Insider:

‘From the Mediterranean shores of Tel Aviv, Israel’s fraught geopolitical position is almost non-existent. Tourists and locals alike sip Goldstar, Israel’s ubiquitous dark lager, as the waves roll in and out. Children laugh and splash in the water. A group of teens play volleyball as the sun sets.

It feels like a much nicer version of the Jersey Shore: The sand is softer, the water is clearer, and the beer tastes better.’

Tel Aviv, Israel: Tourists eating in outdoor cafe, Tel Aviv Yafo, Israel

Poster child

Tel Aviv is the Israeli state’s poster child, projecting an image of a country that is modern, open, welcoming and, of course, democratic.  But it is only an image, a mirage, a shimmering falsehood that does not in fact exist – certainly not if you’re a Palestinian.

From: Haaretz:

Settler Violence Against Palestinians Is the Escalation to Fear in the West Bank

Rise in attacks against Palestinians likely to continue as army, police, Israeli society stand by passively or encourage attacks

What actually exists is an Apartheid state that has enshrined in law – the Nationality Law – Jewish supremacy.  And lest there be room for doubt about the law’s intent, Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) Member Avi Dichter, a sponsor of the Nationality Law, provided confirmatory commentry: ‘We [Israel] are enshrining this important bill into a law today to prevent even the slightest thought, let alone attempt, to transform Israel to a country of all its citizen (sic).’   It is this state that is to host, in May 2019, the Eurovision Song Contest.

Songwashing

Leave Tel Aviv and you don’t have to travel far to encounter the harsh realities Israel has created for Palestinians.   A reality to be masked by a parade of songsters trilling their competitive hearts out in what surely will come to be judged a grotesque spectacle, transmitted worldwide  – the Tel Aviv Eurovision Song  Contest.

And a few miles away….

Tel Aviv is about 32 miles from the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank

The Israeli military night raids into Palestinian cities, towns, and refugee camps are a near daily occurrence.  From the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz:

It happens every night, with or without any apparent reason. It’s always brutal: a violent invasion of the home of a sleeping family, before the eyes of the women and the children, everyone abruptly awakening to a nightmare of dozens of soldiers, sometimes with dogs. An alien presence. The arrest missions of the Israel Defense Forces, perhaps the most salient sign of the routine of the occupation, are carried out both in times of unrest and periods of quiet. Hardly a night goes by without them.

The raids take place across the West Bank … and always at night. Every decent Israeli has the obligation to try to imagine the scene: to be woken up in the dead of night by armed, masked soldiers, their rifles aimed at you and at your terrified children. Often the troops resort to violence, tying up members of the household and beating them. Sometimes they use live ammunition.

At some point, they take someone, the wanted individual, into custody, with no explanation, no arrest warrant, no judicial oversight. In some cases, they don’t even let their captive get dressed. Days will pass before the family learns where he is, what his condition is, what the suspicions against him are. Or he might be released after a few days, again with no explanation. If he’s brought to trial, the charges against him will be revealed; some of them are real, others are invented or political in nature, as is usual in the military courts.

Tel Aviv is about 50 miles from the Gaza Strip

Since March 2018 at least 248 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, the majority shot during the Friday protests, though others have been hit by tank fire or air raids. More than 23,000 others have been wounded. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

From the Electronic Intifada:

Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by using lethal military force against unarmed protesters in Gaza, a United Nations independent commission of inquiry has found…

[Israeli forces] have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists,” Sara Hossain, one of the other three investigators appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said.

Tel Aviv is about 30 miles from Nablus

On 30 January, Israeli forces demolished the foundation of a house under construction in Huwwara, Nablus, affecting a family of three, including one child.

Tel Aviv is about 45 miles from the Hebron village of As-Simiya

The Israeli state, for the third time, demolished a small school, denying 45 students their basic right to education.

Tel Aviv is about 70 miles from the Bedouin villages of the southern Negev-Nagab area

In January of this year, the unrecognised village of al-ʿArāgīb,in the Negev-Nagab was destroyed by the Israeli state – for the 138th time.

‘There are about 40 Bedouin villages in the Negev not recognised by the state of Israel. Some of the villages existed in their location prior to the establishment of the state. Other villages were internally displaced during the 1950s.Israel does not recognize the historical villages nor does it recognize the internally displaced villages.’

‘In most of the villages there are no schools, kindergartens or health clinics. In all of them there is no infrastructure, including electricity, running water, paved roads and sewage disposal systems. These villages cannot participate in municipal elections. The populations of these villages are reduced to severe hardship and poverty, compounded by the fact that they cannot access their basic civil, political and social rights. Planning policies have ensured that villages remain unrecognized and subject to house demolitions and legal penalties. Basic infrastructure and services continue to be denied to these localities.’

This month, February, the recognized Bedouin village of Umm Batīn had its fields ploughed over and crops destroyed.

Tel Aviv is about 55 miles from Jerusalem

On 2 January, 2019, the Israeli Ministry of Interior and the Jerusalem municipality along with Israeli forces demolished a 90 sq m residential house in Qalandiya, East Jerusalem. The house’s access road was bulldozed, several trees uprooted and furniture buried under the rubble. The demolition displaced a family of six, and affected another family of six, including three children.

Tel Aviv is about 65 miles from Nazareth.

On 19 January, 2019, a Palestinian family from Tur’an, near Nazareth, North Israel, was forced to self-demolish their house. Saba Safouri has been living in the house for the past 20 years with her four children.  The house had been built on the land of her ancestors who became refugees in 1948. The Israeli authorities had seized the land under the Absentee Property Law.

This from ICAHD UK (Israel Committee Against House Demolitions), January 2019 report:

‘During January 2019, at least 39 structures were demolished in the occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem) by Israeli forces, displacing at least 44 people- including 18 children- and affecting a further 181 people, including 107 children.’

Proximity and distance

People tend to sit between five and eight feet away from their television screens. Vast numbers will watch the Eurovision contest, in effect, close up.  So near, yet so far – the paradox of proximity serving to distance viewers from the harsh realities that an apartheid regime necessarily entails, but we are being required neither to see nor care.

Singing to a different tune – rejecting distance

Calls to boycott Eurovision 2019 if hosted by Israel are spreading across Europe and beyond, including from former Eurovision winners, commentators and presenters, legendary artists, trade unions and political parties.  You may wish to check it out by going here

 

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