Fri, May 17, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Palestinians plan events as Eurovision alternatives

AFP, RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories

Israel hosts the Eurovision song contest this week and the thousands of visitors who come with it, but Palestinians are planning an alternative they hope draws attention to the country’s occupation.

The alternative to Eurovision, called “Globalvision,” will be held tomorrow, the same day of the song contest’s finals in Tel Aviv.

Pro-Palestinian campaigners say the idea for it came from the fact that they do not want to simply oppose the Israeli event, but host a positive alternative.

Globalvision parties are expected in London, Dublin, the Palestinian West Bank city of Ramallah and Haifa in northern Israel, which has a significant Arab population.

No European TV channels are expected to feature the events, but they are to be streamed online, with organizers urging people to tune in instead of watching Eurovision.

Among those expected to take part is influential British musician and producer Brian Eno, along with prominent Palestinian musicians.

The event in Haifa is to feature a drag queen and other performers who are to fulfil the desire for the famed Eurovision kitsch, said Najwan Berekdar, one of the organizers.

She said the aim was to create an “alternative musical event that highlights the original values of Eurovision, which is inclusion and diversity.”

Tel Aviv hosts the largest Gay Pride event in the Middle East every year and the city has a cosmopolitan feel.

This tolerance of homosexuality is often trumpeted by Israeli officials, who compare it with many Arab states where homosexuality is criminalized.

Critics say this amounts to “pinkwashing” — seeking to use its pro-gay attitudes to downplay its occupation of Palestinian territory.

“Israel is using art and culture to whitewash occupation,” Berekdar said.

Palestinians have been seeking to have their voices heard in other ways.

Madonna has received criticism for her planned performance at Eurovision, including a plea to cancel from the mother of a Palestinian journalist shot dead by Israeli forces during protests and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border last year.

The US pop star has since said she will reject boycott calls and headline the event.

Anti-occupation nongovernmental organization Breaking the Silence has also erected a billboard in Israel with the slogan “Dare to Dream of Freedom,” playing on this year’s Eurovision slogan “Dare to Dream.”

In Gaza on Tuesday, musicians performed in the shadow of a building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in response to Palestinian rocket fire earlier this month.

Tuesday night saw hackers succeed in flashing a fake rocket attack warning during the Web cast of a Eurovision semi-final in an incident Israel’s public broadcaster blamed on Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, although Hamas has not commented on the allegation.

On stage in Tel Aviv, all eyes will be on Iceland’s entry for a potential protest.

The band Hatari have been critical of Israel and previously challenged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Glima, a Nordic folk wrestling match,

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