'Refuse Whitewash of Israel's Crimes': Roger Waters Calls for Eurovision Boycott

Ex-Pink Floyd frontman argues artists who opt out of contest set for May in 'apartheid' Tel Aviv will be 'remembered for standing on the right side of history'

File photo: Musician Roger Waters performs at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 20, 2017.
Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters has urged all delegations set to participate in this year's edition of the Eurovision Song Contest to boycott the international competition, slated for May in "apartheid" Tel Aviv.

In a Facebook post published on Saturday, the rock star and supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement called on competitors to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Palestinians.

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In an open letter to Portugal's Eurovision pick Conan Osiris, who "was reported as saying he wasn’t sure if he would go to Tel Aviv or not," Waters wrote he "had an opportunity to speak up for life over death and also for human rights over human wrongs," and called on him to "refuse to join the cultural whitewash of what a recent UN report calls Israel’s war crimes and possible crimes against humanity."

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"He could show solidarity with the 189 un-armed protestors shot to death by Israel’s snipers in Gaza last year alone, including at least 35 children," he said, referring to data in the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry's report on the 2018 Gaza border protests, published in February.

The UN Human Rights Council's commission determined that the majority of Gaza protesters who were killed by Israeli forces – 154 out of 183 people – had been unarmed. The findings were rejected by several Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Israel outright rejects the report.

"Conan can refuse to perform in front of the segregated audience in Tel Aviv at the Eurovision song contest finals this coming May," Waters added, citing Israel's oppression of Palestinians and "systematic ethnic cleansing." However, he said Osiris has yet to respond to a private letter he had sent him on the matter "a few days ago."

Waters then went on to write: "Good luck brother, you are not alone. There are 42 finalists, among them we will find the one. The one who has enough love in their heart to stand up and be counted. To say, 'I believe in universal human and civil rights … I will not cross the Palestinian picket line to perform in apartheid Tel Aviv until all my brothers and sisters from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea have equal rights under the law.' The one who will be remembered for standing on the right side of history, standing for love, true peace and justice."

In January, Waters called on the BBC to refrain from broadcasting the Eurovision in Tel Aviv. An open letter signed by over 50 leading U.K. artists urged the BBC to push for the locale of this year's song contest to be changed because of "Israel's systematic violation of Palestinian human rights."