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  • Writer's pictureAndréa Oldereide

Luxembourg back at the Eurovision after 30 years, silent during a genocide?

Luxembourg's 2024 Eurovision return is overshadowed by controversy over Israel's participation, with criticism of the European Broadcasting Union's political stance, and participants avoiding comments on Israel.


Promo collage for Luxembourg at the Eurovision 2024
Source: https://eurovision.tv/story/luxembourg-8-hopefuls-malmo-2024

Luxembourg is set to return to the Gay Olympics, I mean, the Eurovision Song Contest in 2024, marking its first participation since 1993.


It should be a time for celebration amongst all Eurovision fans in the small central European nation, which was once one of the most successful countries in the singing competition, winning a total of five times.


But like so many other events lately and showbiz treats we love to indulge in, the upcoming Eurovision Contest has been spoiled by rampant Zionism and genocide deniers.


That’s right, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the contest every year, recently announced its official participants for next year, and you guessed, Israel is on the list.


Israel's motives for participating in the Eurovision


There are many problematic aspects of this announcement that we could unpack, starting with the fact that the EBU didn’t hesitate to ban Russia from competing in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2022 after its invasion of Ukraine.


In other words, with power and will, you can stop an aggressor from partaking in fun activities in our society, such as the Olympic games, or the Eurovision Song Contest.


Unfortunately, as it turns out, killing more than 22 thousand civilians in the span of two months is simply not enough for the EBU to take such actions against Israel. Their banning criteria are a little blurry, we admit.


And then, you have the aspect of self-identified Zionists who claim to be indigenous to the Middle East and who in essence, refuse to acknowledge their European roots, yet, absolutely want to mark their visibility in the most European show that has ever been created.


In the words of the zionist lobby, the Anti-Defamation League: “Jews, like Palestinians, are native and indigenous to the land.” And so, according to Zionist beliefs, it doesn’t matter if your grandparents are Polish, so long as you are Jewish, you’re native to the region, not European.


You’re confused, I’m confused, we’re all just so confused.


(It is important to note that there are many Jews who completely oppose Zionist ideologies, and it is an antisemitic trope to think all Jews are Zionists.)



Singer Noa Kirel, who represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 with the song "Unicorn", finished in 3rd place. Source: BBC

Last year, the contest’s executive supervisor, Martin Österdah was asked about the broadcast’s ongoing ban for Russia.


He said: “It was, and it still is. How Europe feels very much affects the contest. It is also that when you look back in time, you see that the Eurovision Song Contest is like a logbook of what has happened in Europe, and what the trends have been in Europe.


“But, also, what is the kind of mood and sentiment of Europe, and what is the social context of Europe at the time? When we say we are not political, what we always should stand up for are the basic and ultimate values of democracy. Everyone is right to be who they are.”


Ukraine went on to win the 2022 contest with the song Stefania, performed by Kalush Orchestra. The UK, which came second, hosted the contest this year in Liverpool, as the war prevented Ukraine from upholding the tradition of the Eurovision winner hosting the competition. 


As the decision to ban Russia from Eurovision came as a reflection of the “sentiment of Europe”, a choice many of us Eurovision fans wholeheartedly approved, I can’t help but wonder: does this mean Europe’s current sentiments for Palestinians are not as strong as they were for Ukrainians?


Russia banned in 2022: double standard?


A poll from Ipsos published in October (after October 7) showed the public’s attitudes to the current conflict in Israel and Gaza amongst British adults. It revealed that more than 7 in 10 Britons were concerned about the impact of the current conflict in Israel and Gaza on Palestinian (74%) civilians.


According to the poll, those aged 18-34 were more likely to want the UK government to support the Palestinians (23%) than the Israelis (7%). This bracket of age matters, as those under 35 years old represent a significant portion of Eurovision’s viewers, more than 60%, according to Eurovision figures in May.


While figures illustrating the attitudes of Europeans regarding Palestine and Israel are hard to come by, weekly marches in solidarity for Palestine held in most European cities are hard to ignore. 


Luxembourg, for instance, has been active in organizing a demonstration in solidarity with Palestine every Saturday since the 7th of October. Alongside other actions such as sit-ins at the central train station or in front of the US embassy.


And who can forget London’s historical march on Armistice Day, which saw up to one million protesters demanding a ceasefire? 



Tens of thousands of people gathere at a pro-Palestine rally in London (October 2023). Source: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/another-massive-pro-palestine-rally-in-london-slams-israeli-bombing-of-gaza/3036171


All of these numbers start to paint a pretty clear picture: we, Europeans, care about Palestinians too, and many of us condemn the Israeli government aggressions which have been described as genocide by multiple political figures and international organizations, as reported by Time Magazine.


Now that Israel has been officially announced as a participant next year, the 2024 edition of the Eurovision feels like a double-edged sword for Luxembourg. On one hand, the event marked a historic return for the Grand Duchy, which had participated a total of 37 times since making its debut at the first contest in 1956. Having won a total of five times, the small central European nation is one of the most successful countries in the contest, second only to Ireland and Sweden. 


It is also the only multiple winner in the contest's history never to have won with an artist native from their own country. Eurovision fans will know that Luxembourg’s wins launched the careers of Jean-Claude Pascal, France Gall, Vicky Leandros, Anne-Marie David, Corinne Hermes, and Lara Fabian.


On 15 December 2022, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel instigated discussions regarding the return of Luxembourg to the Eurovision Song Contest. On 12 May 2023, RTL and the EBU officially revealed that Luxembourg would return to the contest in 2024, marking its first participation since 1993.


A national final broadcasted by RTL will be held on 27 January 2024 to select the 2024 Luxembourgish entry. The finalists are Joel Marques Cunha, Naomi Ayé, EDSUN, Krick, One Last Time, TALI, Angy & Rafa Ela, and CHAiLD.


Luxembourg silence on questions about genocide


Amidst the excitement of such a significant return to such a staple on European television, it is easy to forget that there is this giant elephant in the room: the Israel story of it all. One can only wonder if they have opinions on the matter at all.


We’ve submitted a request to interview each contestant, which had to be approved by RTL, however, upon making our intention to mention Israel’s participation, our request has been refused.


We have even sent direct messages to certain contestants on Instagram, such as CHAiLD, a queer artist who has advocated for LGBTQ+ rights, but they did not reply to our query after we mentioned, once again, Israel.


We have also put in a request to interview queer artist Maz (who also advocates for LGBTQ+ rights), who auditioned for Eurovision and was not selected to partake in the Luxembourg finale. He didn’t reply either.


One can only conclude that RTL, which is in charge of broadcasting and managing Luxembourg’s participation at the Eurovision, as well as the EBU, have no intentions of commenting on Israel’s participation in the contest.



(Left to right) Hari Nef, Phoebe Bridgers, and Shea Couleé amongst the 240+ LGBTQ+ artists have signed an open letter calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Source: Michael Buckner/Variety;Frazier Harrison/Getty;Santiago Felipe/FilmMagic

However, given how long only this recent genocide has been happening (we are talking about one genocide in Gaza as part of a history of 75 years of ethnic cleansing and apartheid violence in Palestine), and the horrific record-breaking death toll, one can’t help but wonder the responsibility of cultural actors in speaking up about injustices. Silence is complicity and one way of being vocal is through art.


“Queer Artists for Palestine” is a platform and open letter signed by well-known queer artists such as Kehlani, Indya Moore, Pheobe Bridgers and Drag Race Icons Shea Coulée and Sascha Velour, pledging their solidarity with Palestine.


“Now more than ever, we must be clear: queer people are no friends to Israeli apartheid. We use our voices and our platforms to oppose systemic violence and inequality – against Palestinians, and against all people everywhere,” they wrote in their open letter.


They concluded the letter by writing: “Palestinians remind us that none of us are free until we are all free. That ‘queer liberation is fundamentally tied to the dreams of Palestinian liberation: self-determination, dignity, and the end of all systems of oppression’. We will continue to speak out for Palestine, to educate ourselves, and to uplift Palestinian voices.”



People denouncing Israel’s crimes against humanity is nothing new, including within the Eurovision bubble. In fact, some contestants notably, and to some, infamously, waved a Palestinian banner whilst on live TV during the show.


In 2019, when the contest was taking place in Tel Aviv, Israel, Iceland’s representatives, band Hatari, flashed a Palestinian banner during the points section. 


At the time, performers heading to Israel for the Eurovision had been told to keep politics out of the Eurovision. Subsequently, the self-described BDSM and anti-authoritarian band were fined upon doing the exact opposite of what they were told: they got political.


As per Tribune Mag, Eurovision’s 2019 edition was controversial from the start: just two days after Israel’s Netta Barzilai won in May 2018 (the victorious country hosts the next year), President Donald Trump's administration moved its US Embassy to Jerusalem, effectively recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, going against the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. 


With protests erupting worldwide and international organizations condemning the move, the choice to perform at the contest rather than boycott it went against the line of the international pro-Palestinian community.



Hatari flashing a Palestine banner at the 2019 Eurovision in Tel Aviv. Source: https://eurovisionworld.com/esc/iceland-broadcaster-fined-5000-for


Ultimately, Hatari chose the attention of the Eurovision to bring awareness to the cause, and most significantly, went on to collaborate with Queer Palestinian musician Bashar Murad in creating the song ‘KLEFI/SAMED’.


Upon waving the Palestinian banner at the Eurovision’s final, which had been smuggled in by Hatari’s Palestinian friends, the Icelandic Broadcasting Authority was fined €5,000 for the act, and the clip was removed from official Eurovision streams. However, pictures and clips still circulate to this day online.


Meanwhile, calls to boycott the Eurovision altogether have grown on social media. In addition, multiple national broadcasters in Europe have been flooded with demands to withdraw from the competition.


In the latest news reports, the EBU said in a statement to the Irish online newspaper The Journal: "It is a competition for broadcasters - not governments - and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the Contest for 50 years.”


Meanwhile, Israel’s “war on Hamas” has already taken its toll internally on its national singing competition, with 26-year-old Israeli colonial settler military reservist, Shaul Greenglick, dying in the Gaza Strip just weeks after he successfully auditioned on a TV show that picks the country's submission for the Eurovision Song Contest, as per Euronews.


Time will only tell if the EBU will eventually acknowledge Israel’s war crimes and rogue military missions causing deaths not only in neighbouring countries, but also within its own genocidal squad.


The EBU responds


Following two requests and a missed deadline to respond to Déi Aner, the EBU finally issued the following reply via email on January 2: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for public service broadcasters from across 

Europe and the Middle East. It is a competition for broadcasters – not governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has participated in the Contest for 50 years.


"The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is a member-led organization. The governing bodies of the EBU– headed by the Executive Board – represent the membership.


"These bodies have reviewed the participants list and agreed that the Israeli public broadcaster KAN 

meets all the competition rules and can participate in the Contest next year in Malmö, Sweden, alongside 36 other broadcasters.


"The EBU is aligned with other international organizations, including sports unions and federations and other international bodies, that have similarly maintained their inclusive stance towards Israeli participants in major competitions at this time.


"Comparisons between wars and conflicts are very complex and difficult. As a non-political media organisation, we do not make such comparisons.


"In 2022, following the invasion of Ukraine, the governing bodies of the EBU decided to exclude the Russian broadcaster from the Eurovision Song Contest where they would be competing alongside our Member Suspilne Ukraine.


"As mentioned, the Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for broadcasters, and after 

repeated breaches of membership obligations and the violation of public service media values, the Russian members were suspended from the EBU. 


"The Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event that unites audiences worldwide 

through music.”


The 2024 Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmö, Sweden on Tuesday 7 May (First Semi-Final), Thursday 9 May (Second Semi-Final) and Saturday 11 May (Grand Final) 2024.

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