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London cinema to scrub Eurovision screening if Israel in final

Controversy has also surrounded Britain's entry, Olly Alexander, for signing a petition critical of Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip.

Eden Golan, winner of the reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” during the final competition on the show, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo by Koko/Flash90.
Eden Golan, winner of the reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” during the final competition on the show, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo by Koko/Flash90.

A London movie theater threatened this week to cancel the screening of the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final on May 11 if Israel remains in the competition, according to Deadline.

The Rio Cinema in East London, known for previously broadcasting the Grand Final and its ties with Eurovision Party London, declared its decision via social media, and added that it will continue to support Palestinian charities.

This stance isn’t isolated, with recent calls from Belgian ministers for Israel’s exclusion from the contest due to its anti-terrorism operation against Hamas.

Controversy has also surrounded Britain’s entry, Olly Alexander, for signing a petition critical of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. Conversely, notable figures including actress Helen Mirren have advocated for Israel’s inclusion in the event.

The Israeli entry has faced challenges in balancing Eurovision’s apolitical mandate with national sentiment, leading to alterations in both the lyrics and title of Eden Golan‘s song from “October Rain” to “Hurricane” to comply with the European Broadcasting Union’s guidelines.

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest on Feb. 15 reaffirmed that Israel will be allowed to compete amid the war against Hamas, rejecting parallels drawn by pro-Palestinian activists with Russia’s exclusion from the competition over its invasion of Ukraine.

“Comparisons between war and conflict are complex and difficult and, as an apolitical media organization, it is not our place to make them,” Noel Curran, director-general of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the annual musical extravaganza, told AFP.

A review by the EBU’s governing bodies found “that the Israeli public broadcaster Kan met all the competition rules for this year and can participate, as it has for the past 50 years,” Curran noted.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2024 will take place in Malmö, Sweden, following the Scandinavian country’s victory at the 2023 song contest. Golan, 20, will represent the Jewish state in the second semifinal on May 9. The grand final will take place two days later.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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