SBS threat­ens to sue pro­tes­tors call­ing for boy­cott of Euro­vi­sion in Is­rael

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Amanda Meade

SBS has re­fused to bow to de­mands from pro­test­ers to boy­cott Euro­vi­sion in Is­rael next year and has threat­ened to sue them for ap­pro­pri­at­ing the broad­caster’s brand­ing.

Is­rael won the Euro­vi­sion song con­test with pop star Netta Barzi­lai’s quirky en­try Toy, which means it will host next year’s fi­nals, ex­pected to take place in Tel Aviv.

“Thank you so much. I love my coun­try,” Barzi­lai said when she held her tro­phy af­ter her win.

A pro-Pales­tinian ac­tivist group, Boy­cott Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions Aus­tralia, has joined pro­test­ers and artists world­wide in call­ing for a boy­cott of the event.

It used a red leaflet fea­tur­ing the SBS name and logo to pro­mote its cause. It said: “Boy­cott Euro­vi­sion 2019; Don’t Cel­e­brate Is­rael’s Apartheid Crimes”.

SBS sent a le­gal let­ter say­ing they must “im­me­di­ately re­move SBS’s trade­mark from any of your web­sites, so­cial me­dia pages and any other mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial”.

“As is com­mon prac­tice for or­gan­i­sa­tions man­ag­ing and pro­tect­ing their brand, SBS is in con­tact with this or­gan­i­sa­tion about their unau­tho­rised use of the SBS logo,” a spokes­woman told Guardian Aus­tralia.

The le­gal dis­pute re­mains un­re­solved.

BDS Aus­tralia has pe­ti­tioned SBS not to broad­cast Euro­vi­sion 2019 be­cause of what they say is “Is­rael’s on­go­ing op­pres­sion of Pales­tini­ans and the theft of their lands and the dis­crim­i­na­tion they face in­side Is­rael”. The pe­ti­tion has 2,000 sig­na­tures.

“We stand in sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tinian mu­si­cians and artists who have launched a cam­paign to boy­cott Euro­vi­sion 2019. Euro­vi­sion should not be used to ‘art­wash’ the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment’s apartheid poli­cies and the vi­o­lence in­flicted on Pales­tinian peo­ple. Euro­vi­sion’s good rep­u­ta­tion will be for­ever tar­nished by its as­so­ci­a­tion with the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.”

But SBS has re­jected the plea.

“SBS re­spects and sup­ports the right for peo­ple to ex­press their views,” a spokes­woman told Guardian Aus­tralia.

“SBS has been broad­cast­ing Euro­vi­sion for 35 years and will con­tinue to do so be­cause of the spirit of the event in bring­ing peo­ple and cul­tures to­gether in a cel­e­bra­tion of di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion through mu­sic.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief ex­ec­u­tive Vic Al­had­eff con­demned the boy­cott and praised SBS for its “prin­ci­pled po­si­tion”.

“Is­rael is a ro­bust lib­eral democ­racy which re­spects the civil lib­er­ties of all its cit­i­zens. To sin­gle out the world’s only Jewish state for boy­cott is rank hypocrisy and we ap­plaud SBS for its strong and prin­ci­pled po­si­tion on this is­sue,” he told Guardian Aus­tralia.

“The ef­forts to pres­sure it to boy­cott Euro­vi­sion threat­ens com­mu­nal har­mony and seeks to un­der­mine an event which brings joy to mil­lions. Euro­vi­sion is about mu­sic; let’s keep pol­i­tics out of it.”

Lead­ing Aus­tralian ac­tor Colin Friels is one of the artists who has signed the pe­ti­tion: “Given the siege of Gaza and the slaugh­ter of Pales­tini­ans, the tele­vis­ing of the Euro­vi­sion song con­test must not be al­lowed to ‘art­wash’ Is­raeli bru­tal­i­ties. I strongly sup­port the boy­cott of this event and urge oth­ers to do the same.”

Singer Netta Barzi­lai rep­re­sent­ing Is­rael, wins the 2018 Euro­vi­sion song con­test in Lis­bon, mean­ing next year’s con­test will be held in Is­rael.Pho­to­graph: Vy­ach­eslav Proko­fyev/TASS

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