Why is Israel allowed to participate in Eurovision even though Russia was banned?

If there’s one line Eurovision’s organiser, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), loves to trot out, it’s that the song contest is an “apolitical” event that brings people across the world together with music.

They’ve gone especially hard on this narrative over the past two years, recycling the official 2023 slogan, “United by Music”, for 2024.

It’s a nice sentiment — that just so happens to be overshadowed by the EBU’s decision to allow Israel to compete in 2024 despite its ongoing conflict with Palestine. That, and Israel’s reported attempt to enter a song believed to reference the events of October 7, 2023, into the competition. (Following a request from President Isaac Herzog, the lyrics and title of Israel’s submission have since been changed.)

But this is nothing new for Eurovision, which has time and again been eclipsed by the state of the global political landscape over its 68-year history, despite any desire its Switzerland-based organiser may have for it to remain neutral.

From the boycott, to the planned protests, to the widespread artist outcry

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has called for the boycott of Eurovision 2024 over what it says is “the EBU’s whitewash of apartheid Israel’s genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza”.

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