It will come as no surprise, given the current conflict in Gaza, that IBA’s announcement of Mira Awad, an Arab, as their choice for the Eurovision Song Contest is already being seen by many as a publicity stunt to detract attention. An open letter has been sent from several artists and intellectuals from the region.
The letter, directed toward Awad states that "Israel would not be able to continue with its war crimes without the support of the international community, especially the United States and the European Union". The authors, both Arab and Jewish, went on to say "What allows the international community to provide support is Israel’s image as a ‘democratic,’ ‘enlightened,’ ‘peace-seeking’ country. Your participation in Eurovision is taking part in the activity of the Israeli propaganda machine".
The letter becomes more explicit when it directly equates her Eurovision participation with increased attacks on Gaza, they say her participation “allows the Israeli army to use another 10 tons of explosives, another phosphorous bomb”.
Ofer Pesenzon, manager for both Awad and Achinoam Nini, says the duo “have been co-operating for five years” and that “their approach has always been in favour of dialogue, out of a belief that only thus will it be possible to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and in the Middle East in general. It’s very sad that Jewish and Arab extremists in our country are motivated by hatred and anger.”
IBA also staunchly defended the selection, saying it was a “professional decision that also expresses the aspiration for coexistence, which transcends politics”.
Signatories of the letter include actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, film director, Nizar Hassan and founder of the Al-Andalus publishing house, Yael Lerer.