A petition signed by over 7,000 people which asks Ireland’s Eurovision entrant Sarah McTernan to pull out of the song contest in ‘Apartheid Israel’ this week has been delivered to the singer. The signatures were collected online (6,359) and on the streets (735) over the past two months.
The delivery comes a day after Galway City Council passed a motion supporting calls for a boycott of the controversial contest, noting that “it will be openly used for political and militaristic propaganda purposes”. Galway is the third local council to make such a call, following Derry & Strabane, and Sligo last month.
The petition states that “while Israel – a state which has repeatedly been accused of war crimes by the United Nations and human rights organisations, and openly boasts of how it uses art and culture to whitewash its crimes – continues its oppression of the Palestinian people, no artist of conscience should participate in this ‘culturewashing’ event … Ireland has a proud tradition of standing with the oppressed and against injustice and we sincerely hope you will take this opportunity to stand on the right side of history by refraining from crossing the Palestinian picket line.”
Fatin Al Tamimi, chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a member of the ‘Irish Campaign to Boycott Eurovision 2019 in Apartheid Israel’, said that the “campaign is disappointed that despite repeated attempts to reach out to her, including letters from Palestinian artists, Irish artists, Israeli activists and artists, LGBTQ+ activists, and Irish anti-apartheid veterans, Sarah McTernan has chosen to go ahead with her participation in the Apartheid Eurovision.”
“Sadly, by performing in Apartheid Israel, Sarah McTernan will have chosen the side of the oppressor, the side of injustice, the side of brutal apartheid regime that refuses to let my people enjoy our freedom. However, it is not too late for her to change her mind, to choose the side of freedom, justice and equality over oppression, apartheid and racism.
“To quote the letter from over 30 Irish anti-Apartheid movement veterans sent to her last week, ‘there is still time to make the moral choice and to stand on the right side of history’. Please listen to the thousands of petition signatories. Please listen to your Palestinian sisters and brothers – Palestinians like me. Please cancel your performance at the Apartheid Eurovision.”
In March, actor Rory Cowan defended Sarah McTernan amid a flurry of criticisms accusing her of supporting apartheid Israel in her decision to participate in this year’s Eurovision.
Cowan accused protestors of “bullying” her for choosing to pursue her creative passion and represent her country on a global platform, saying: “It’s shocking the way people are trying to intimidate this girl when all she is doing is representing her country.”
Cowan claimed that he has no problem with travelling to Israel to support Sarah and as a gay man, highlighted what he saw as a positive relationship between the country and the queer community:
“I met gay Palestinians at a Gay Pride festival in Tel Aviv last June and they loved Israel and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread because Israel accepted them and gave them refuge.”
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