Move Eurovision From Israel, Peter Gabriel and Leading U.K. Artists Urge BBC

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Julie Christie (L), Peter Gabriel (C), and Vivienne Westwood.
Julie Christie (L), Peter Gabriel (C), and Vivienne Westwood.Credit: AP

Some 50 British cultural figures, including musician Peter Gabriel and actress Julie Christie, signed a letter published on Tuesday in the Guardian calling on the BBC to push for the locale of this year's Eurovision song contest to be changed because of "Israel's systematic violation of Palestinian human rights."

The BBC rejected the call, saying it was 'inappropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons.’

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"The European Broadcasting Union chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem – but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces," read the letter.  

"The BBC is bound by its charter to 'champion freedom of expression,'" the figures said. "It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed."

Also among the dozens of signatories were filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and musician Roger Waters.

Earlier this month, protesters in France stormed the stage after a performance by Netta Barzilai, who won the song contest in 2018, carrying a sign saying "Non a l’Eurovision 2019 en Israel!" (No to Eurovision 2019 in Israel).

The song contest is scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv this May.

Full list of signatories:

Peter Ahrends, architect
Amir Amirani, filmmaker
Jonathan Arndell, architect, artist
Roy Battersby, director
Bloody Knees, band
brave timbers, band
Jen Brister, comedian
Carmen Callil, publisher, writer
Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso, performer
Julie Christie, actor
Ian Christie, film historian, broadcaster
Chipo Chung, actor
Caryl Churchill, playwright
Michael Darlow, tv writer and director
Paula Darwish, musician
April De Angelis, playwright
Tam Dean Burn, actor
Drones Club, band
Nancy Elan, violin
Gareth Evans, producer, curator
Peter Gabriel, musician, founder WOMAD festival
Lots Holloway, singer, songwriter
Rachel Holmes, writer
Brigid Keenan, author
Patrick Keiller, artist, filmmaker
Reem Kelani, musician, broadcaster
AL Kennedy, writer
Desmond Lambert, musician
Mike Leigh, writer, director
Ken Loach, director
Sabrina Mahfouz, writer
Miriam Margolyes, actor
Yann Martel, writer
Declan McKenna, singer, songwriter
JD Meatyard, musician
Pauline Melville, writer
Giuliano Modarelli, musician, composer
Object Blue, DJ
Maxine Peake, actor
Jocelyn Pook, composer
TJ Rehmi, composer, producer
Reverend & the Makers, band
Leon Rosselson, songwriter
Rrose, DJ
Alexei Sayle, comedian, author
David Scott, music producer
Nick Seymour, musician
Sarah Streatfeild, violin
Roger Waters, musician
Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer
Wolf Alice, band

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