A letter by 50 British cultural figures calling for the BBC to press Eurovision not to hold their 2019 song contest in Israel was dutifully published in the Guardian on Jan. 29th. The letter, replete all the predictable canards by a who’s who of anti-Zionist activists (aka, the ‘I hate Israel’ rubber stamp brigade), is also promoted in a separate Guardian article published the same day by the paper’s Music Editor.
We’ve shown that the Guardian has consistently published such pro-BDS letters by British ‘artists’ over the years – missives which amplify and grant credibility to what are extremely marginal – not to mention almost always unsuccessful – anti-Israel campaigns.
As far as the content of the letter, there’s not much new, save the bizarre suggestion that all of Jerusalem (not just the formerly Jordanian controlled “eastern” section) is “occupied”, and the completely baseless smear that West Bank Palestinians live under “apartheid”. The crime of “apartheid” is defined under international law as “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime”. The separation between West Bank Palestinians and Israelis is not based on race, but on citizenship – the former having never been citizens or permanent residents of the state. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is based on the fact that two groups lay claim to the same territory and haven’t been able to reach a negotiated agreement to resolve the dispute.
Moreover, a brief note on the roots of the “apartheid” charge against Israel: Though in its modern guise, the ‘apartheid’ charge took flight in the early 2000s after the UN sponsored anti-Israel hate-fest in Durban, it is, at root, the product of Soviet and PLO propaganda dating back to the early 1960s – that is, before Israel ‘occupied’ even one square centimeter of West Bank land. The late antisemitism scholar Robert Wistrich wrote (A Lethal Obsession, 2010), that “the constant visual and verbal comparison in the Soviet media between Israel and South Africa was [driven] by Moscow’s campaign to win influence in black Africa” – a propaganda campaign wedded to their broader efforts to cast Zionism as an inherently racist ideology.
Additionally, in criticising the BBC’s plans to broadcast Eurovision 2019 from Israel, the Guardian letter ends by noting that the BBC “is bound by its charter” to “champion freedom of expression”, before arguing that “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”. However, we certainly don’t recall any such campaigns against the BBC when they broadcast the Eurovision contest from Russia in 2009, or when they broadcast it from Azerbaijan in 2012 – two countries with worse human rights records, by far, than Israel. according to annual reports by Freedom House.
But, of course, as we’ve demonstrated repeatedly, the anti-Israel campaign the Guardian is constantly endorsing is clearly not guided by a commitment to universal human rights, moral consistency or intellectual honesty.