Celebrities arguing against a cultural boycott of Israel in the lead-up to this year’s Eurovision song contest are missing the point.
A joint letter from figures including Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne and Marina Abramovic states, ‘We believe the cultural boycott movement is an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange and mutual recognition.’
In a recent interview, last year’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai took a similar stance, when she refused to politicise her opinion regarding this year’s contest. She stated she would perform for a Palestinian audience ‘if my singing could solve problems’.
But the concept of ‘building bridges through music’, as the writers of the joint letter call it, does not recognise the inherent violence in Israel’s settler-colonial presence in Palestine.
There is a global trend of normalising Israel, especially when it comes to trade and economic relations. Opposing the boycott follows the same lines — feigning a non-political perspective when it comes to decades of stolen land, ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians.
One common rhetorical trend used by those opposing the cultural boycott is to describe Israeli colonialism as a ‘conflict’. Instead of emphasising the importance of decolonisation, ‘compromise’ is celebrated. But compromise between the coloniser and the colonised is a dangerous political game that has systematically eroded prospects for Palestinian liberation. Read more.