Artists create alternative Eurovision in response to Israel’s participation

An artistic group in Ireland has created an alternative Eurovision event amid calls to boycott Israel’s participation in the contest while raising money for Palestinian organisations.

Apartheid-Free Arts, a group of artists supporting human rights and advocacy groups in Palestine, hosted an event called Shine On Palestine: The Alternative Eurovision featuring Irish and Palestinian musicians and poets.

The alternative event was live-streamed from the Axis in Ballymun, Dublin, and Leisureland in Galway on Friday but will be rebroadcast from 7.30pm on Saturday during the Eurovision final in Malmo, Sweden.

Sarah Clancy, one of the event organisers, described the boycott as “unpleasant” but believes this does not outweigh the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The poet and community worker from Galway told the PA news agency: “We’re responding to the call from a variety of Palestinian movements including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to say that we should not participate in a big entertainment event like the Eurovision when Israel, which is currently committing what appears to all intents and purposes to be a genocide, is also involved in it.

“Having a boycott is always unpleasant and it will hurt people’s feelings, but getting hurt is a little bit different to a genocide.”

Israel has strongly denied any accusations of genocide and maintained it has the right to defend itself following the attacks launched by Hamas in October that saw more than 1,000 people killed and kidnapped.

Ms Clancy, 50, claimed Israel is attempting to “art wash” Eurovision, which references the use of artistic performance to distract from perceived negative actions by people, groups, governments or countries.

“(The event) is in response to the situation in the occupied territories and it’s more than 1,500 artists from around Ireland who have undertaken a pledge that we won’t support anything that’s funded by the Israeli state,” she explained.

“It’s not a boycott of individual Israeli artists but it’s of the state funding and the use of arts and culture to normalise the actions of Israel.”

She criticised Eurovision for excluding Russia from the contest after its invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and not taking the same measures for Israel, which she feels should not participate in the contest.

“If you look at the response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, there was a whole host of international sanctions and way more important things than the Eurovision,” she said.

“We think that while (Israel) are (at Eurovision), nobody should be participating. We have to take a stand against that hypocrisy and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The poet hopes the event will represent “the opposite of quietism” and believes art will raise awareness about the situation in Gaza while calling for peace in Palestine.

She hopes the event will make Eurovision viewers reflect on the conflicts between Israel and Palestine beyond the contest.

“Eurovision will be over on Sunday and whatever happens after the Eurovision they will realise what has been happening to the Palestinians for 75 years has been an injustice,” she explained.

“None of us expect what we’re doing will solve Gaza, but we do hope that it will build up the pressure and build it up using the resources that artists have, which is creativity, voice and a bit of profile compared to other non-artistic citizens.

“This was the opportunity to have a spectacle, which hopefully will give other people courage and confidence to speak out as well.”

The group is raising money for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) and the Psychosocial Counselling Centre for Women (PSCCW).

So far, the event has raised more than 7,000 euros of its 100,000 euros target. To learn more about the fundraiser, you can visit: