Eurovision: Israel in the spotlight as politics – once again – becomes the star of the show

It was hardly a surprise that Israel’s Eurovision contribution would result in protests of some kind. Despite its own rules, the 68-year-old international song contest has for decades been used as a platform to express political views and geopolitical divisions. But the war in Gaza – and Israel’s imminent threat to launch a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah – has made this year’s song contest more political than usual.

Before the world’s largest live music event began in the southern Swedish city of Malmö this week, Swedish police had geared up for a nearly unprecedented security operation. Hundreds of extra riot police have been deployed to the city, snipers have been placed on the roofs and drones can be seen hovering in the sky.

“The security situation is totally different now,” Ulf Nilsson, head of security for the city of Malmö, told Swedish daily “Dagens Nyheter” in February when asked about the extraordinary security measures and how they have changed from when the city last hosted the contest in 2013.

Anti-Israel atmosphere’

In the countdown to the May 7 opening of the contest, however – and amid Israel’s imminent threat to invade Gaza’s southern city of Rafah – it became clear that Israeli participation would be a preoccupation for police as several pro-Palestinian, and a few smaller pro-Israel protests, were announced.

It did not take long before the competition got political.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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