Knesset members decry Eurovision conditions for 2019 contest in Israel

Some of the conditions set by Eurovision are a “disgrace,” says Public Security Minister Erdan.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israeli radio programming on Tuesday was filled with Knesset members and government ministers decrying one or more of the conditions that Eurovision organizers had set in order to allow the song contest to take place in Israel next May.

Hadashot News reported Monday that the European Broadcasting Union had sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting he agree in writing to five demands; otherwise, the Eurovision will be moved elsewhere, despite Israel’s win this year in the 62nd version of the international competition.

Included among the requirements were: no restrictions on granting entry visas or travel within Israel, complete freedom of the press and of expression for all participants and delegations, removing religious restrictions regarding the performance of general rehearsals on the Sabbath, and complete independence for the Kan radio broadcaster.

Various senior politicians took exception to the letter.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan focused on the possible dangers to the country, telling Army Radio, “It’s a complete disgrace. I don’t understand how they have the gall to demand such a thing….

“Every democratic nation has the right to decide which foreigners may enter its territory,” he said. As for those “who seek to harm it – of course Israel won’t allow them in.”

MK Moti Yogev of the Bayit Yehudi party was angered by the religious aspect, saying on the Galei Israel channel that the contest “should stay in Europe” if it meant that the Sabbath would be violated by rehearsals taking place on the Jewish holy day.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin took a broader view, taking into consideration the revenue that thousands of participants and fans would bring to the country. If the conditions are the same for every country, “we need to find a way to work with it,” he said.

Tel Aviv or Jerusalem?

The venue of the contest – whether Tel Aviv or Jerusalem — could also be a divisive decision, which is to be made in the coming days, according to the European organizers who toured both cities last week.

Just three days after Netta Barzilai won the contest with her worldwide hit “Toy,” Levin made it clear where he wants to see Eurovision 2019 take place, telling Walla News, “Of course it will be in Jerusalem.”

In defiance of European organizers, Culture Minister Miri Regev said it should be held in Jerusalem or not at all.

Indeed, upon winning, Barzilai exclaimed, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

“It’s clear to us that the more normal the situation is in Jerusalem, and sporting and music events are taking place, and people come and go there, the de facto reality of the city will become permanent, and that’s a good thing,” Levin said.