One of Belgium's state-owned broadcasters disrupted its broadcast of the annual Eurovision Song Contest on Thursday, May 9, to denounce the actions of the state of Israel. (EPA-EFE/JESSICA GOW SWEDEN OUT)


Belgian State-broadcaster interrupts Eurovision show to denounce Israel


One of Belgium’s State-owned broadcasters disrupted its coverage of the annual Eurovision Song Contest semi-final on May 9 to denounce the actions of Israel.

VRT, the public service broadcaster for Flanders, interrupted its broadcast of the competition’s second semi-final to display a wall of text attacking Israel for “human rights violations”.

“This is a union action. We condemn the human rights violations by the State of Israel,” the image reportedly read.

“Furthermore, the State of Israel is destroying press freedom. This is why we are interrupting the broadcast for a moment,” it added, also including the hashtags #CeaseFireNow and #StopGenocideNow.

The incident came amid broader protests surrounding Israel’s participation in the competition.

Numerous protests are said to have taken place in the Swedish host city of Malmö – which sports a large Muslim migrant population – with some expressing fear that local anger surrounding Palestine could result in terror attacks targeting the show.

Others have taken to targeting Israel’s entry, performed by 20-year-old Eden Golan, who was subject to loud boos during her live performance on May 9.

Golan also appeared to be on the receiving end of pressure behind the scenes, with tense scenes emerging at one press conference following the Song Contest.

Asked by one reporter whether she felt her presence at the competition was endangering the safety of other performers, Golan was told by an organiser that she was not obligated to answer the question if she did not want to.

Still, Joost Klein, singer of the pro-Brussels Dutch entry Europapa, then chimed in, asking: “Why not?”.

The Israeli entry is not the only one causing controversy, with Ireland’s entry Doomsday Blue also under fire over its handling of certain religious themes.

Performed by artist Bambie Thug – a self-described “queer” and “witch” – some in Ireland have expressed anger that the traditionally Catholic country has entered a song they say is laden with pagan themes and imagery.

Despite the controversy, Bambie Thug, Golan and Klein are all among the favourites to win the competition.

Yet none of the songs are currently as popular as Croatia’s entry, Rim Tim Tagi Dim, a song about a rural man who has sold his only cow to go and live in the big city.