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Eurovision to be held in Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem

Sept. 14, 2018 3:59 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 17, 2018 2:02 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced that the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Tel Aviv and not in Jerusalem following worldwide criticism and fear of boycotts.

Along with Israeli Netta Barzilai's winning song titled "Toy" in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 comes responsibility for the winning country to host next year's contest in their own country, in this case in Israel.

Israel responded quickly to the win in May by declaring that the song contest would be held in Jerusalem, sparking tensions and criticism worldwide.

However, following months of discussions regarding the location of the annual song contest, Israel dropped its demand to host it in Jerusalem, which has been a focal point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and agreed for it to be held in Tel Aviv instead.

Jon Ola Sand, EBU's Executive Supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest, said in a statement that Tel Aviv was chosen to host the song contest, because of its "creative and compelling bid."

Sand emphasized "We'd like to thank all the Israeli cities who bid to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, and although all the bids were exemplary, in the end we decided that Tel Aviv provides the best overall setup for the world's largest live music event."

The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality praised EBU's announcement "The city is pleased to officially announce that the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Tel Aviv. The city is Israel's financial and cultural center, an international hub of art and creativity, of commerce and trade, of media and academia."

The municipality added that "according to data gathered from previous host cities, around 20,000 tourists are expected to visit Tel Aviv, which will gain an estimated of 100 million shekels ($28,033,900) in direct revenues."

The semifinals of the Eurovision song contest will be held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center on May 14th and 16th, and the finals will be held on May 18th 2019.

Last Sunday, over 140 artists from around the world, including six Israeli artists, signed a letter calling for the boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest and demanding the song contest should be boycotted if it is "hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights."

The letter, which supported an appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott Eurovision, stressed that "until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights."

The letter demanded that the contest not only be cancelled in Jerusalem, but be cancelled completely if hosted in Israel "We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a 'non-divisive' location for the 2019 Eurovision. It should cancel Israel's hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record. Injustice divides, while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites."

Performing in Israel still remains highly politicized, with many criticizing that Israel's military action towards the Palestinians is more than enough to justify a cultural boycott.

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