The BBC should press for Eurovision to be moved from Israel

On 8 February, the BBC will screen You Decide, to ‘deliver the UK the artist it deserves to fly the flag out in Tel Aviv in May’. For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honour, say 50 figures from the creative industries.

In May, the BBC intends to screen Eurovision 2019 from Israel. Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.

The European Broadcasting Union chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem – but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces.

On 8 February, the BBC will screen You Decide, the show it says will “deliver the UK the artist it deserves to fly the flag out in Tel Aviv in May”. For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honour. They and the BBC should consider that “You Decide” is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot decide to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid. Even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship were told in the nation-state law passed last year that only Jews have the “right to national self-determination”.

When discrimination and exclusion are so deeply embedded, Eurovision 2019’s claim to celebrate diversity and inclusion must ring hollow. Much more in tune with “inclusivity” is the outpouring of support across Europe for the Palestinian call for artists and broadcasters not to go to Tel Aviv.

The BBC is bound by its charter to “champion freedom of expression”. It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.

Peter Ahrends, architect
Amir Amirani, filmmaker
Jonathan Arndell, architect, artist
Roy Battersby, director
Bloody Knees, band
brave timbers, band
Jen Brister, comedian
Carmen Callil, publisher, writer
Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso, performer
Julie Christie, actor
Ian Christie, film historian, broadcaster
Chipo Chung, actor
Caryl Churchill, playwright
Michael Darlow, tv writer and director
Paula Darwish, musician
April De Angelis, playwright
Tam Dean Burn, actor
Drones Club, band
Nancy Elan, violin
Gareth Evans, producer, curator
Peter Gabriel, musician, founder WOMAD festival
Lots Holloway, singer, songwriter
Rachel Holmes, writer
Brigid Keenan, author
Patrick Keiller, artist, filmmaker
Reem Kelani, musician, broadcaster
AL Kennedy, writer
Desmond Lambert, musician
Mike Leigh, writer, director
Ken Loach, director
Sabrina Mahfouz, writer
Miriam Margolyes, actor
Yann Martel, writer
Declan McKenna, singer, songwriter
JD Meatyard, musician
Pauline Melville, writer
Giuliano Modarelli, musician, composer
Object Blue, DJ
Maxine Peake, actor
Jocelyn Pook, composer
TJ Rehmi, composer, producer
Reverend & the Makers, band
Leon Rosselson, songwriter
Rrose, DJ
Alexei Sayle, comedian, author
David Scott, music producer
Nick Seymour, musician
Sarah Streatfeild, violin
Roger Waters, musician
Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer
Wolf Alice, band