CALLS for Ireland to boycott the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest have 'crossed a line' according to Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv.
The annual event is due to take place in Tel Aviv, Israel next week and Irish pro-Palestinian supporters are urging Ireland to pull out of proceedings.
Kariv described those calling for the boycott as ‘a small minority’ and claimed that the majority of Irish people would be interested in watching the contest.
Ireland’s Eurovision entry this year is 25-year-old Sarah McTernan who is due to perform her song “22” in the semi-final next Tuesday.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign who are behind the push for the boycott are backed by the likes of musicians such as Christy Moore and former Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan.
Kariv however is unconvinced by the group’s motives and methods stating that asking for Ireland to snub the event altogether is the wrong way to approach the issue.
“I don’t think boycotts should be in our toolbox,” he said.
“We should have many other means for communication and expressing our views and for debating. We may agree, we may disagree.
“This is a group that, not for the first time, tries to hijack the agenda of public discourse and of events, whether they are cultural or commercial in order to promote their anti-Israel agenda.”
The Israeli diplomat insisted he was happy to sit down and debate with people opposite him who were critical of Israel’s politics, but insists calling for a boycott is different.
“A small group of extremists calling for a boycott means no communication whatsoever. I think this is dangerous to Ireland, at least as much as it is dangerous to Israel,” he added.
“As much as I am aware of the criticism in Ireland of Israel’s policies and criticism, when it is real criticism, it is quite legitimate. There is a very thin line between being pro-Palestinian and supporting Palestinians and being anti-Israel.
“It is too easily and too often being crossed.”
The campaigners however reject the notion that they’re anti-israel and stress that they’re not extremists with Independent Senator David Norris saying: “I don’t regard myself as an extremist.”
“The Israeli government and their agents always try and discredit people who oppose them and raise legitimate democratic concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians,” he said.
Mr Norris also denied he was anti-Israel and lamented a time where Israel was a left-leaning liberal democracy.
“Now it is an extreme right wing state which completely ignores and tramples upon the human rights of its minorities that are Palestinian.”