Eurovision 2019: Israel Hosts Song Contest Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests - NBC4 Washington

Eurovision 2019: Israel Hosts Song Contest Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests

Palestinian rights groups say the popular music contest distracts from Israel's military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank

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    In this May 14, 2019 photo, people hold placards during a protest against Eurovision Song Contest demanding the removal of Israel's blockade on Gaza at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, Israel.

    Millions across the world tuned into the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel on Saturday for their annual fix of the camp and colorful musical spectacle.

    Israel is hosting because singer Netta won last year's instalment of the competition renowned for its inclusive message, while Tel Aviv is known as a popular destination for LGBTQ tourists.

    But while Eurovision unfolds, an alternative show will be held at venues across the globe as part of an effort to protest this year's host and support Palestinian artists, NBC News reported.

    The international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement says the contest "distracts attention" from Israel's treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. 

    The competition comes just weeks after deadly exchanges on the border, with a cease-fire bringing a temporary halt to mounting tensions.

    Daily life for most of the Gaza strip's 2 million residents has become increasingly difficult, with almost no clean water and unreliable access to electricity.

    "Eurovision in apartheid Tel Aviv is cynically used by Israel's far-right government to artwash, or whitewash through art, its decades-old regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian people," said Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, in an email to NBC News. 

    Activists are instead encouraging music fans to tune into Globalvision — a performance highlighting Palestinian musicians, filmmakers and comedians — that will be broadcast at the same time as Eurovision on Saturday.