How much politics can the ESC handle?

At this year's Eurovision Song Contest the musical contributions attracted less attention that the protests against Israel's participation, on stage, among the audience and outside the Malmö Arena where the event took place. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) had emphasised once again that political content is prohibited at the event.

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Echo (RU) /

Israel's image still intact

In a Telegram post picked up by Echo, Israeli entrepreneur Arkadi Mayofis comments with satisfaction on the fact that Eden Golan came second in the public vote:

“This clearly contrasts with the news from European cities, where anti-Israeli and now also explicitly antisemitic rallies are taking place almost non-stop. Firstly, it shows that these protests are not spontaneous reactions on the part of concerned citizens but organised events. ... And secondly, it shows that despite the unprecedented information attack on Israel, public opinion in Europe has not been swayed. So much for Israel's defeat in the information war: we have not lost it.”

Iltalehti (FI) /

Organisers' resolve commendable

Excluding Israel would have sent a fatal signal, Iltalehti puts in:

“People from one extreme of the spectrum to the other, from genuine peace activists to antisemites and Hamas supporter, took part in the protests against Israel and its participation in the ESC. ... Since the ESC is above all an annual celebration of the rainbow community one can't help wondering whether all those protesting in Malmö, for example, realised what kind of homophobic groups they were supporting by calling for Israel to be held to account. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) did the right thing in not giving in to the pressure to exclude Israel in this situation.” (GR) /

The right place for protest

For In, it's wrong to ignore critical voices at the ESC:

“Those responsible at the EBU, the organiser of Eurovision, declare at every opportunity that the contest has nothing to do with politics. ... This stance has often been a subject of debate in the world of art or sport, with the 'politically correct' excuse from the organisers that this is not the right place to play out political rivalries or chant slogans that could be disruptive. But if this is not the right place, what is? Was the Berlin Olympic Stadium not the right place in 1936 when Jesse Owens humiliated the supposedly superior Aryans?”

Expresso (PT) /

Just like under a dictatorship

Portuguese singer Iolanda made a subtle gesture drawing attention to the war in Gaza at the ESC: her fingernails were painted in the pattern used for Palestinian scarves. Expresso sees this as an expression of helplessness:

“The tactics used by Iolanda are the tactics artists use get around censorship in dictatorships. And the automatic reaction of trying to hide that moment is the usual one in a dictatorship - and the same goes for the TV broadcaster trying to drown out the booing of the audience [against Israel] with pre-recorded applause (a tactic used for the first time in 2014 to drown out the booing against Russia). ... The only, by no means insignificant, difference is that the contestant didn't risk prison, just disqualification.”

Primorske novice (SI) /

Ultimately all about entertainment

Primorske novice has no political aspirations for the ESC:

“This year, the EBU publicly expressed its support for Israel in the worst possible way. So one wonders at this point: why did we watch the spectacle at all? The answer is simple: for the entertainment. ... The drama and chaos that accompany it are merely 'added value'. Last year we hung up Ukrainian flags, this year we banned Palestinian flags. Will we be flying Taiwanese flags next year?”

The Spectator (GB) /

Not the right place for criticism of Israel

The Spectator criticises the protests directed at the singer representing Israel:

“Golan, who is barely more than a teenager, was turned into the public face of Israel's war in Gaza and effectively deemed personally responsible and publicly accountable for Israel's conduct of the war. What qualifies a street mob to rule that she should carry the blame for everything that has happened in Gaza? She is a performer, who was there on behalf of her country's public broadcaster, not the Israeli government. Such distinctions appear lost on the protesting mob, infused with its own brand of fanatical certitude.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Exclusion would have been consistent

The European Broadcasting Union needs to rethink its strategy, De Morgen insists:

“After the Russian attack on Ukraine, the organiser of the world's largest music competition didn't hesitate to ban the aggressor, but it has turned a blind eye to Israeli violence under the guise of political neutrality. If the EBU continues to seek a balance in times when bombs are falling on innocent citizens every day, it will lose its last vestige of moral credibility. It's also tragic that the Song Contest did not address the blatant human rights violations during the broadcast. ... If the producers want a return to the calm of previous events, they need to take off their blinkers and do what was long overdue: exclude Israel from the ESC.”

Libération (FR) /

A dangerous development

The anger of the protesters is understandable but it should not be directed against individuals, Libération concurs:

“Everything is at a standstill while the people of Gaza are dying of hunger, fear and abandonment. It's understandable that people around the world are angry at the cynicism of the Israeli and Hamas leaders and the inaction of Western and Arab leaders. And even healthy. And the fact that they are demanding that at least a Palestinian state be recognised could move things forward. But for this anger to be directed against individuals - whether or not they are artists - because they represent a country, a religion or an identity is unacceptable. And terribly dangerous.”

Politiken (DK) /

Make love, not war

Politiken welcomes the winning entry's message against the highly polarised backdrop:

“There is something beautiful and hopeful in the fact that the winner was the Swiss singer Nemo, who sang about having been to hell and back but having finally cracked the code. The fact that a non-binary song about the search for identity from an ultra-conservative country was loved by both the juries and the viewers and ended up beating the war cries and battle songs is beautiful and symbolic. ... So make love, not war. ... Or as Nemo put it: Whoa-oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh.”

Večernji list (HR) /

The jury has too much clout

If the public vote had been decisive, the Croatian entry Rim Tim Tagi Dim by Baby Lasagna would have won. Večernji list looks at why:

“If you talk to the music experts they all think Nemo's song is good. Nevertheless it's legitimate to ask why people are allowed to spend their money on voting if in the end a jury decides who wins. ... Who holds the power in the EU is decided only by the citizens, without any jury, so why can't the citizens alone vote for the song of the year? ... If there the ESC is to continue to have a jury, then let's also introduce one for the elections, and exclude anyone that doesn't meet the approval of this or that European body, all the extremists and those who oppose the system.”