The award-winning British alternative rock band Wolf Alice have joined a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place on 18 May in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
There have been widespread calls for a boycott of the contest, given Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories and its killing of protesters and other civilians in the Gaza Strip.
British cultural figures boycotting the contest include songwriter Peter Gabriel, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and film director Mike Leigh.
Speaking to Sky News, Wolf Alice guitarist Joff Oddie that Israel was “weaponising culture” and using Eurovision to “whitewash over their human rights abuses”.
Oddie said that the band’s boycott of Eurovision was in response to “a call from Palestinian civil society”. Palestinian artists had previously called on European artists to boycott Eurovision 2019, saying that Israel had killed over 60 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza-Israel border on 14 May 2018, the same day Israeli singer Netta won the previous Eurovision song contest.
In September last year more than 140 international artists pledged support for a boycott in a letter to The Guardian newspaper.
“We asked Palestine – ‘do you want us to come’ ‘No – do not come’ and that’s what you do, you respect the people who are being oppressed.”
Wolf Alice’s singer, Ellie Rowsell said, “If you say you’re not gonna go to Israel, then lots of people ask you why you’re going to other countries where you don’t believe in their government’s actions. People ask, ‘Why do you go to America? Does that mean you support Trump?'”
However, she added, “You won’t do anything if you think like that. Everywhere’s f****d, and in terms of the cultural boycott of Israel, that’s what the Palestinian people have asked for.”
Wolf Alice, a four-member rock band formed in 2013, won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize for their 2018 album Visions of A Life, which reached #2 in the UK album charts.
Some artists, however, have rejected calls for a boycott. US pop superstar Madonna said that she will “never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda”.
She was expected to perform at the contest in Tel Aviv but there was doubt about this on Tuesday, with Eurovision Song Contest organisers saying she hadn’t yet signed a contract to do so.