BDS Protesters Storm Stage at Netta Barzilai pre-Eurovision Performance in France

Security guards removed the protestors within seconds at the pre-Eurovision contest. Eurovision organizers worry of the challenges the Israel boycott movement will pose at next year’s contest, to be held in Israel

Protesters opposed to holding this year’s Eurovision song contest in Israel stormed a French stage on Saturday, following a performance by the contest’s 2018 winner Netta Barzilai at the semi-finals of a pre-Eurovision contest.

The protesters carried a sign saying “Non a l’Eurovision 2019 en Israel!” (No to Eurovision 2019 in Israel), and came on stage after Barzilai finished singing her winning song “Toy” and stood with the other contestants.

Security guards removed the demonstrators within seconds.

Barzilai seemed unshaken by the incident and said, “I’ve had such an amazing evening, with incredible and embracing energy from the French audience. Five people who came to spread darkness rather than focusing on music and love can’t bother me on a night like this. I’m grateful for the warm and huge embrace I received here this evening.”

According to French media reports, there is no intention of taking legal action against the demonstrators.

Before the outburst, Barzilai successfully performed the song that won her the Eurovision song contest less than a year ago and Israeli flags were raised in the hall. Barzilai also revealed the cover of her new song - the first since “Toy.” Named “Bassa Sababa,” it is slated for release in less than two weeks.

Israel will host the 2019 contest due to its victory the previous year. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel is one of the main challenges facing the organizers of this year’s Eurovision competition and it is expected to increase pressure on the participating artists once they are chosen. 

Most of the contestants are young musicians, and organizers worry that they won’t be able to deal with the threats and criticism. The European Broadcasting Union is preparing for such a situation and they have promised to try to convince every artist not to surrender to the pressures of the anti-Israel campaign.

Last October RTE, the Irish public broadcasting company, informed its workers that they would be allowed to boycott the Eurovision contest in Israel and refuse to cover it without consequences. 

Several months ago, an internet manifesto calling for the contest’s cancellation for political reasons received over 16,000 signatures. The British newspaper The Guardian published a column with a similar message. According to The Guardian, holding the Eurovision contest in Israel will necessarily make it a political event, which is contrary to the spirit of the contest, which aims to create unity through music