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Several local artists and intellectuals are calling on the Israeli Arab singer and actress chosen to represent Israel at the Eurovision song contest to step down, saying her participation in the "Israeli propaganda machine" would convey a false impression of national coexistence used to cover up the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

The duo Mira Awad, a Christian Arab, and singer Achinoam Nini, who is Jewish and also known as Noa, were chosen this week to represent Israel in the televised contest.

"Israel would not be able to continue with its war crimes without the support of the international community, especially the United States and the European Union," the signatories, both Jewish and Arab, wrote in an open letter to Awad.

"What allows the international community to provide support is Israel's image as a 'democratic,' 'enlightened,' 'peace-seeking' country. Your participation in Eurovision is taking part in the activity of the Israeli propaganda machine," they added.

Every contribution to the "false image" Israel is building "allows the Israeli army to use another 10 tons of explosives, another phosphorous bomb," the letter says.

Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, one of the people who initiated the open letter, said Awad's participation in Eurovision would be a "fig leaf" for Israel's actions, and spoke out against Nini's call to Palestinians in Gaza to renounce the Hamas leadership.

No response was available from Awad or Nini by press time, but their manager, Ofer Pesenzon, charged the signatories - who include filmmaker Nizar Hassan and publisher Yael Lerer - with extremism.

"Achinoam and Mira have been cooperating for five years," he said. "They have appeared in many respected venues around the world, and their approach has always been in favor of dialogue, out of a belief that only thus will it be possible to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and in the Middle East in general. It's very sad that Jewish and Arab extremists in our country are motivated by hatred and anger."

'Aspiration for coexistence'

The Israel Broadcasting Authority said Eurovision is a cultural event "aimed at creating musical dialogue between the various countries that take part in it."

"The selection of Mira Awad and Achinoam Nini is a professional decision that also expresses the aspiration for coexistence, which transcends politics," it said.