Olly Alexander. (YouTube screenshot) (YouTube screenshot)
Olly Alexander

Olly Alexander responded to an open letter signed by more than 450 members of the LGBTQ+ community demanding he boycott Eurovision because Israel was allowed to participate.

by Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

Pop singer Olly Alexander, the United Kingdom’s representative in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, responded on Friday to an open letter signed by more than 450 members of the LGBTQ+ community asking him to boycott the international music competition because of Israel’s participation in the event.

Alexander — who joined others late last year in falsely accusing Israel of genocide and apartheid — said in a statement shared on social media that he wants to use his participation in the Eurovision contest to advocate for peace in the Middle East.

“I know some people will choose to boycott this year’s Eurovision and I understand and respect their decision,” he began by saying. “It is my current belief that removing myself from the contest wouldn’t bring us any closer to our shared goal. Instead, I’ve been speaking with some of the other EV contestants and we’ve decided that by taking part we can use our platform to come together and call for peace.”

“I hope and pray that our calls are answered and there is an end to the atrocities we are seeing taking place in Gaza,” he added. The singer also reiterated his support for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and called for the return of all hostages taken by Hamas from Israel during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in the Jewish state, as well as “the safety and security of all civilians in Palestine and Israel.”

Queers for Palestine published an open letter on Thursday urging Alexander to pull out of Eurovision in solidarity with the Palestinians. “There can be no party with a state committing apartheid and genocide,” the group said. “At a time when accountability is so urgently needed, Israel’s inclusion in Eurovision would enable and cover up its war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The letter’s signatories included actors, writers, musicians, novelists, and playwrights.

Alexander also shared on Friday a joint statement from him and other Eurovision contestants this year who are choosing to remain in the competition, despite being against Israel’s actions during its ongoing defensive war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

“We firmly believe in the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections,” they said. “We feel that it is our duty to create and uphold this space, with a strong hope that it will inspire greater compassion and empathy.” The joint statement was signed by Eurovision contestants Bambie Thug from Ireland, Gåte from Norway, iolanda from Portugal, Megara from San Marino, Nemo from Switzerland, SABA from Denmark, Silvester Belt from Lithuania, and Windows95Man from Finland.

Musicians in Iceland pushed to have Israel banned from the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest before the competition began because of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, but the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the contest, rejected their demands. Eurovision Party London, the English capital city’s biggest Eurovision screening party, also announced last week that it was cancelling its screening event for this year’s Eurovision because of Israel’s involvement in the competition.

The finals for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest will take place on May 11 in Malmö, Sweden. Israel’s contestant in the competition, Eden Golan, is competing with a song renamed Hurricane. The track’s original lyrics and song title, October Rain, was initially disqualified by the EBU for being too political since the original song referenced the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.

An official in Israel has encouraged Israelis planning to attend this year’s Eurovision contest in Sweden to hide their Zionism or Israeli identity and not draw attention to themselves to avoid having security issues in Malto. The official described Malto as “an unfriendly area for Israelis.”

In last year’s Eurovision competition, contestant Noa Kirel from Israel came in third place.

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