Protests call for Eurovision boycott over Israel participation as Ireland qualifies for finals

In addition to the Eurovision boycott campaign, protests are taking place all over Ireland calling for an end to Israel's assault on Gaza.

A protest held in Ireland calling for a Eurovision boycott, with a van parked in front of the RTE studios reading
Image: Uplift - Gareth Chaney

On Wednesday, May 8, campaign group Uplift staged a demonstration condemning RTÉ for refusing to boycott Eurovision over Israel’s participation. The protest comes the day after Ireland’s Eurovision entry Bambie Thug qualified for the finals of the song contest.

As part of the demonstration, a mobile billboard was placed in front of RTÉ’s headquarters in Dublin, showing a message that read: “RTÉ boycott Eurovision – Don’t Let Israel Artwash Genocide”. At the same time, Irish Artists for Palestine (IAFP) delivered a 17,000-signature petition calling for Israel to be expelled from Eurovision.

Patrick Kelleher, campaigner at Uplift, said: “More than 34,000 people have been killed by Israeli forces, and the death toll just keeps rising. Children are starving to death and famine is now a reality in Gaza. Meanwhile Israel has already attempted to hijack the Eurovision to send a political message.

“RTÉ should have nothing to do with the Eurovision as long as Israel is involved in the likely genocide of people in Palestine.”

This is not the first protest staged by activists in Ireland calling on RTÉ to boycott Eurovision, with the Irish Boycott Eurovision 2024 Coalition organising a ‘die-in’ last week to depict how Eurovision is art-washing Israel’s war crimes.


The day before Wednesday’s protest, Ireland’s representative, non-binary artist Bambie Thug, qualified for the Eurovision finals set to take place on Saturday, May 11. Speaking at a press conference after the semi-finals on Tuesday, May 7, Bambie Thug said that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) ordered them to change pro-Palestinian markings on their face and legs ahead of their performance.

The markings in question were written in Ogham – an ancient Irish alphabet – and translated to “Ceasefire” and “Saoirse Don Phalistin”. Commenting on this, Bambie Thug said: “Unfortunately, I had to change those messages today to ‘crown the witch’ only (which was an) order from the EBU.”

A spokesperson for EBU said: “The writing seen on Bambie Thug’s body during dress rehearsals contravened contest rules that are designed to protect the non-political nature of the event. After discussions with the Irish delegation, they agreed to change the text for the live show.”

Many activists have drawn attention to the different stances taken by Eurovision in regard to Israel’s participation in comparison to the exclusion of Russia from the contest in 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine. At the time, Eurovision’s Executive Supervisor, Martin Österdahl, spoke about the decision, stating: “When we say we are not political, what we always should stand up for are the basic and ultimate values of democracy.”


Over 34,700 Palestinians have been killed in the seven months since Israel launched its genocidal military offensive in the Gaza Strip following the Hamas attack on October 7, last year. Many more had to flee their homes to avoid being killed in the airstrikes, with estimates showing that 90% of the population in the Strip has been displaced.

On Tuesday, May 8, the Israeli army launched an assault and seized control of Gaza’s border crossing in Rafah, a small city where many Palestinians fled after Israel ordered civilians in the Strip to evacuate south. It is now estimated that 1.5 million people are living there, with many living in tent camps and makeshift shelters after fleeing the bombardments.

Fears of a full-scale invasion of the southern city are mounting as this first assault came after Hamas accepted a ceasefire proposal on Monday, May 7, which Israel claimed fell short of its demands. The latest attack prompted the US, Israel’s biggest supporter since the conflict started, to halt a shipment of bombs to Israel which they feared would be used in the full-scale invasion of Rafah.

This is the first such delay since the Biden administration offered its support to Israel, a move that has been widely condemned both in the US and abroad. In the States, large-scale protests demanding academic institutions to divest from companies supplying arms to Israel were staged on several university campuses.

Such protests have since gone global, reaching universities in Europe, the UK and even Ireland, where students at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) established a protest encampment on campus in support of Palestine.

As a consequence of the encampment, TCD has today agreed to work towards total divestment from Israeli institutions in an unprecedented victory for the protesting students. The students, who camped on campus for five nights, have unanimously agreed to accept the university’s terms, but they won’t be leaving until Trinity publishes a statement on the agreement.



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