Culture Minister on Eurovision: Next year in Jerusalem, or not at all

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said that if Israel can’t host Eurovision in Jerusalem next year, it should reconsider hosting it all. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev told Kan radio Thursday that if the Eurovision Song Contest cannot be held in Jerusalem due to opposition from European organizers, Israel should back out of hosting the event altogether.

“I will recommend to the government that the Eurovision — if it can’t be in Jerusalem — we shouldn’t host it,” Regev said.

Regev made the comments just a day after Argentina’s national football team cancelled an exhibition game with Israel that was slated to take place in Jerusalem on Saturday night.

Regev’s decision to move the soccer game from Haifa to Jerusalem was blamed by some for the Argentine decision.

But Regev and her supporters have argued that Israel should not cave in to pressure.

“It costs Israel NIS 50 million. It is designed to market the country. It’s a beautiful musical show that brings every country here,” Regev added.

“I think personally that if the Eurovision won’t be in Jerusalem, it would be wrong to invest NIS 50 million of public funds. The State of Israel’s capital is Jerusalem and we should not be ashamed of it.”

Regev was reacting in part to unconfirmed reports Wednesday that the European Broadcasting Union requested that the contest be held in a “not divisive location.”

Israeli Netta Barzilai won Eurovision earlier this year. According to Eurovision rules, the winner’s country hosts the contest in the following year.  Israel hosted Eurovision in Jerusalem in 1979 and in 1999.

Likud Knesset member and former coalition whip David Bitan told Army Radio that there is no problem holding Eurovision in Tel Aviv.

“It is Israel’s culture capital,” Bitan said.