Eurovision in turmoil as Dutch artist questions Israeli singer's inclusion

A protester holds a sign reading "Say no to genocide" during the Stop Israel demonstration against Israel's participation in the 68th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Malmo, Sweden, May 9, 2024. (Photo/TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson via REUTERS)

The Netherlands' Eurovision contestant Joost Klein has been placed under investigation by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) after he was heard asking an Israeli contestant to justify her participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

"We are currently investigating an incident that was reported to us involving the Dutch artist. He will not be rehearsing until further notice. We have no further comment at this time and will update in due course," EBU’s spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

It came after Klein was heard pushing Eden Golan to answer a question at a news conference on Thursday that was posed by a Polish journalist.

He asked Golan if she thought she was causing a security risk for other participants by attending the event amid Tev Aviv's "genocidal" war in Gaza.

Swedish presenter Jovan Radomir, quickly jumped in, telling Golan she did not have to answer the question . Klein responded loudly: "Why not?"

Klein was scheduled to rehearse on Friday just ahead of Golan, however, he was prevented by the organisers.

At this point, it is not clear if he will perform in the grand finale on Saturday.

Videos emerged on social media after dress rehearsal on Wednesday that showed the Israeli singer being booed because her country, accused of genocide in Gaza, was allowed to participate.

Protests in streets

Ahead of the second semi-final held on Thursday, thousands of pro-Palestine demonstrators took to the streets in the Swedish city of Malmo in a protest of Israeli participation in the competition.

Further protests organised by pro-Palestinian groups are expected to take place in the host city on May 11 after Israel qualified as one of the 26 countries competing in this year’s final.


In solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and as part of protests, an alternative music event, Falastinvision, will be held on the final day of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Many artists from Sweden and other parts of Europe will participate to show support for Palestine.

Authorities have adopted extra security measures including police with submachine guns and reinforcements from Denmark and Norway.

Eric Saade wears Palestinian scarf

Eurovision organisers on Wednesday rebuked one of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 opening acts for wearing a Palestinian scarf during the first semi-final night.

Swedish singer Eric Saade was one of three former contestants opening the contest in Malmo, when he was seen wearing a keffiyeh around his wrist — a symbol in support of Palestine to protest the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

EBU last week decided to prevent contestants, performers and fans from displaying Palestinian flags and pro-Palestine symbols during the contest.

The EBU said those who try to enter the Malmo Arena with a Palestinian flag or a banner containing a political message will be stopped and the flags or banners will be taken away, according to the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper.

Russia was barred in 2022 from Eurovision in Italy after Finland threatened to pull its performer unless it was banned due to Moscow’s decision to conduct a "special military operation" in Ukraine that year.

The EBU prevented Russia from participating in future competitions.

Iceland was fined by the EBU after its Eurovision act, Hatari, raised Palestinian flags during an appearance on the show in Israel in 2019.

In December, the board of the Icelandic Society of Authors and Composers (FTT) publicly urged Iceland’s public broadcaster RUV not to take part in the song contest "unless Israel is denied participation in the competition on the same grounds as Russia in the last competition," FTT’s General Director Stefan Eiríksson said in a letter sent to RUV.

"We all have a duty to take a stand against war and the killing of civilians and innocent children," said Eiríksson.

He further emphasised that individuals and states "always have the choice not to put o ur name to such things."

"We owe it to those nations that act with force through military might not to share the stage in an event that is always characterized by joy and optimism," added Eiríksson.

Golan's song in the contest has already sparked controversy.

It is an adaptation of an earlier version named "October Rain". She modified it after contest organisers deemed it too political because of apparent allusions to Hamas raid on Israel on October 7.

Before she qualified for the final, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Golan good luck, saying she had "already won".


Source: TRT