ISRAEL 🇮🇱 Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev is demanding Israel’s public broadcaster coordinate programming for next year’s Eurovision song tournament with the government, a TV report said Saturday, amid an ongoing battle over the nature of the production. Regev earlier declared that Israel should not host the event if it is not held in Jerusalem, after European organizers reportedly expressed misgivings over the possible politicization of the show. According to Hadashot TV news, Regev is seeking for the government to be involved in the production of the introductory segments, with each participating artist filmed for his part in Israel. The report said this was due to the lack of trust between Regev and public broadcaster Kan, which is tasked with organizing the 2019 contest.
This week the Israeli government will decide the budget allocated to IPBC Kan for hosting the event and also the final process for the announcement of the host city and the dates for Eurovision 2019 will be decided. Israel won the right to host the contest after Israeli Netta Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision event. The song contest usually introduces each artist with a segment meant to highlight an aspect of the host country, often used as a powerful tourism marketing tool.
A spokesperson for Regev told the network in response that she had no intention of interfering in the tournament’s programming, but would still have a role because of state funding organizers receive. “The minister has clarified her personal stance on the matter — the Eurovision competition is an opportunity to express the beautiful and diverse Israeli society, in the form of segments broadcast between the songs in the competition,” the spokesperson said. “Furthermore, coordination between the government and the broadcasting authority is needed in order to invest public funds in the competition and the broadcasting corporation,” the spokesperson added, saying any decision ultimately rests with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Regev’s insistence on holding a planned soccer match between Israel and Argentina in Jerusalem was cited as a main factor in leading to its cancellation earlier this month, and raised fears that similar pressure to locate the contest in Jerusalem could boost Israel boycott efforts. Hadashot news quoted officials from the European Broadcasting Union earlier this week warning Israeli politicians to stop issuing public remarks about the prospective location of the song contest, since it invites pressure from organizations opposed to holding the competition in Jerusalem. A TV report last week said the Israeli government had decided it will not intervene in determining the location of next year’s contest, amid fears that loose-lipped ministers could torpedo Israel’s chance at hosting the event at all if they continue to publicly insist on holding it in the nation’s capital.
Senior EBU officials spoke last week with Eldad Koblenz, head of Kan, and stressed they are not interested in turning Eurovision into a “political issue,” Hadashot TV reported Tuesday. “According to the rules, you should present us with several alternatives, but we don’t have a problem with Jerusalem, so long as it matches the professional requirements. We have broadcast from there in the past and as far as we’re concerned we can do it again,” the officials said, according to the report.
Four cities are reportedly vying for hosting rights: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. Jerusalem is not recognized as Israel’s capital city by most of the international community, which maintains that the city’s status should be determined between Israel and the Palestinians through negotiations. Hosting the event in Jerusalem could be used by politicians to further Israel’s claim to the city.
“Your politicians are creating problems for us because they are highlighting it and turning it into a political issue, sending us letters with demands, and thus inviting pressure on us from all sorts of bodies and organizations that don’t want us to broadcast from Jerusalem,” they added. The EBU officials were said to cite a number of past examples where politicians undermined the contest’s production, including in Ukraine, Switzerland and Croatia. The report said Koblenz confirmed the content of the call, but emphasized that no specific politician was mentioned. The message was almost surely directed mainly at Regev, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, who last week threatened to withdraw the country from the annual song competition unless it was held in Jerusalem.
The decision for the government to back off was made during a telephone meeting on last week between Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the Channel 20 news station reported Sunday. Regev was conspicuously absent from the call.
Fairly or not, right now the image of Israel after the Palestinians incident with 100 dead people and the decisions of Argentina’s football team not to land in Jerusalem for their game with the national team, is damaging the international image of the country. Therefore maybe someone (meaning the PM) should actually find a way to stop this political interference and statements every now and then which puts Israel in more difficult position.