ISRAEL – Eurovision host Assi Azar, a gay man who will be one of four presenters of the contest in Tel Aviv this May, has spoken out against widespread plans to boycott Eurovision as a stand against Israeli oppression of Palestine. In an interview with Gay Star News, Azar protested that “By boycotting, you will never learn or understand the other side.
“My husband, before he moved to Israel, he thought that Israel was the worst place on the planet. He thought it was full of racist people fighting against each other. We move to Israel and now my husband is an ambassador for Israel. “When you move to a certain place, you see people are people. You get good people and bad people. For me, my family and friends – we are people of peace. We want to live in peace next to our neighbours. That’s what I think Eurovision is all about. Live and let live, love and let love.”
The Eurovision host went on to call boycotting “a message of hate.” He added “I used to do lectures in universities around the states and people would protest. What would people get from boycotting me, someone who supports women, supports LGBT people. If you’re going to protest, why not protest politicians?”
He acknowledged that “There are some things to change especially in the terms of the Palestinians. You’re not allowed to get married if you’re gay in Israel and that needs to change.”
“When it’s needed,” said the Eurovision host, “I have criticisms of my country. But when I travel outside, I will always defend my country. “Criticism is always allowed. It’s also extremely important for me to say it out loud, I’m proud to be Israeli and I’m proud of my country. We’ve also done many things that are great and amazing to our country, to our neighbours, and to the world.”