ISIS Won't Blow Up the Eurovision, and Israelis Are Disappointed

France threatened to pull out of the Eurovision, which Israel is hosting in May, if it runs a television comedy show about ISIS recruiting the French representative to carry out an attack during a live broadcast

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Actors receiving directions during the filming of the 2019 miniseries "Douze Points."
Actors receiving directions during the filming of the 2019 miniseries 'Douze Points.'Credit: Meged Gozani
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

“We’re surprised and disappointed at the decision to postpone the airing of the series, mainly in light of the fact that it doesn’t insult the French or Eurovision.”

That was the reaction of Asaf Zelikovitch, one of the creators of the series “Douze Points,” when he was informed Sunday that the program would be broadcast after the contest, to be held in Tel Aviv, May 14-18, and not before as planned. Zelikovitch created the comedy series with Yoav Havel, and in it, ISIS recruits the French representative in the contest to carry out an attack during a live broadcast.

>> When ISIS blows up the Eurovision in Israel ■ France threatens to boycott Eurovision over Israeli TV series depicting ISIS attack

“Douze Points” was supposed to be aired on Kan 11 a few days before the Eurovision Song Contest is held in Israel, but France and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which supervises the contest, didn’t care for the idea. The comedy managed to anger the French delegation to the contest, who even threatened that if the series was broadcast, they would cancel their participation in the contest.

In a letter from the EBU that was sent to the heads of the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, aka Kan, it was claimed that the series offends several basic principles of the contest, first and foremost by expressing a political opinion. They also noted that the series turns a spotlight on the French delegation and in doing so discriminates against the other national delegations.

The CEO of Kan, Eldad Koblenz, was not impressed by the EBU threats and explained that as far as he was concerned, the program would be aired before the contest. However, yesterday the IPBC council decided that the program would be aired without editing changes, but only after the Eurovision contest is held in Israel.

“The series is in favor of Eurovision and in favor of the values it promotes,” says Zelikovitch. “It’s not a series that’s trying to portray Eurovision, or the French, as pathetic. It actually comes to show that the contest promotes values of acceptance and progress as compared to values of conservatism and homophobia that typify ISIS.”

Havel adds, “We’re laughing with Eurovision, not at it. We do make fun of all the shticks and gimmicks on which the contest prides itself, but along the way you laugh mainly at homophobia and at the Middle East.”

In your script you foresaw a scenario that actually took place – France chose a gay Muslim representative, just as happens in “Douze Points.” Do you understand the sensitivity that surrounded the issue?

Zelikovitch: “We believe that the French thought we wrote the series after they chose Bilal Hassani. But we wrote it long before that. It really is a story that turned out very similar to what actually happened.”

Are you disappointed at Kan for giving in and agreeing to air the series only after the contest rather than before it?

Zelikovitch: “The IPBC fought to allow us complete freedom of expression. None of the people there asked us to follow the rules of political correctness or anything like that. They put quite a lot of money on this series and it was important to them that it be broadcast. In this case, there were powers greater than them that twisted their arm.”

Havel: “The absurd thing is that since being chosen, Hassani has been the victim of a series of threats and slanders precisely due to the things that we write about in the series. We oppose hatred and homophobia there. It really is a shame that they embarked on an unnecessary war like that. I’d like to invite them to a screening of the series. I’m pretty sure they would change their minds.”

Zelikovitch: “France is a nation with amazing humor and satire, and I think that what could help the world to deal with the situation is a bit of humor and release. Sometimes it’s permissible simply to laugh a little about ourselves and others.”

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