Thursday, February 08, 2024

No, Israel should not drop out of Eurovision

Ronen Tal in Haaretz writes that Eurovision will become an anti-Israel circus if Israel sends a contestant, and it is better not to feedthe months of hate that will inevitably come:

Between now and May 7, when the first semifinal is held, the protests against us will continue to mount and spread much further, while now they are still mostly limited to the Nordic countries. Representatives from various countries will pull out in protest over the scenes of destruction in Gaza (some of them will be replaced other singers who are willing to risk being subjected to cancellation.) The pressure on the European Broadcasting Union, which has so far supported Israel, will become a raging tsunami of threats and counter-threats. If we take part, the entire competition will become a huge anti-Israel display that will do no one any good, certainly not Israel.

Israel should pull out of Eurovision ...even if it's perceived as an act of surrender to the Roger Waterses and John Cusacks of this world. A decision to withdraw would nullify the scandal before it really got started and completely took over the competition.

The immediate audience of Eurovision fans – loony progressives with an abiding nostalgia for sequins – is incapable, and not the least bit interested, in giving us a genuine opportunity to prove the rightness of our position. This battle needs to be waged in the UN and the Hague, not at a singing competition without an orchestra. Aside from national pride, and a childish fear of looking childish and defeated, there is really no reason to drown in the humiliation waiting for us in Sweden.

There is an appeal in this argument. Why consciously put Israel through months of hate?

Tal's right that Eurovision will become a platform for lots of loony anti-Israel performative pretense of morality. But he's wrong that Israel should withdraw.

One reason is that the world is filled with anti-Israel rhetoric anyway. Staying away will not reduce it.

A second reason is because when people and organizations cave to anti-Israel pressure, it never decreases the hate. On the contrary, it is blood in the water for the piranhas.  Success at forcing Israel out will result in a redoubling of effort to force Israel out of every sporting competition, every chess competition, every math Olympiad, every international event.  

The third reason is actually one of Tal's arguments itself: let the haters leave the competition, not Israel. Let them refuse the honor of representing their countries. If entire countries withdraw, then they look like idiots to their citizens who are fans of the show. And if the news stories go towards unhappy fans missing out on cheering their country - and Israel haters trying to bully singers and countries to boycott it - that would be a good outcome. The boycotters would look stupid on the world stage. 

I don't care about Eurovision for a minute. But the downside for Israel not participating is far greater than any downside from taking part. 


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