CELEBRITIES and public figures gathered at Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge today to launch a campaign calling on Ireland to boycott next year’s Eurovision.
Organisers have called on RTÉ and all potential participants to shun the event in Israel over what they described as the country’s ‘horrendous’ treatment of Palestinians.
However the Israeli Embassy in Ireland said the campaigners were trying to “demonise Israel”.
'Many Irish feel the same'
The boycott has been organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, PalFest Ireland and Trade Union Friends of Palestine.
Among those backing the campaign are former Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan, former commentator Mike Murphy and former Eurovision presenters Carrie Crowley.
Speaking at today’s launch, actress Ms Crowley said: “For all sorts of cultural and historic reasons we identify deeply with the Palestinians.
“Their treatment – or mistreatment – at the hands of the State of Israel is horrendous.
“If by boycotting a significant global television event we can draw attention to this injustice, it might help start changing the attitude and the damage being done on a daily basis.
“I believe many Irish people feel the same way.”
The Irish campaign is made up of human rights activists, artists and other public figures who claim that Israel’s hosting of Eurovision will be used to distract from its treatment Palestinian people.
However the Embassy of Israel in Ireland said the boycott would “do nothing to further the cause of peace”.
“The Eurovision is a cultural event and should not become politicised by extreme voices seeking to boycott Israel,” it said in a statement.
“Israel has a long and proud history of participation in the Eurovision.
“Over the years, the Israeli contestants have showcased the diversity and openness of Israeli society.
“Indeed, in 1998 the Israeli winner – Dana International – brought the issue of trans-identity into the mainstream.
“We look forward to welcoming the international community to enjoy the Eurovision in Israel next year.
“We are sure that a small minority of individuals, who are seeking yet another vehicle to demonise Israel, will not disrupt what is sure to be a magnificent event.”