Protestors from opposing activist movements clashed in Media City over the hosting of this year’s Eurovision contest in Israel.
The singing competition, set to take place in Tel Aviv on Saturday May 18, has been criticised due to the ongoing tensions between the Israel and Palestine, particularly in Gaza.
Activists from around the country flocked to Salford Quays to defend their beliefs, with many North West Palestine Action groups present.
The two groups of protestors appealed to a large crowd, who stood watching outside the Dock 10 studios as they queued up for the Eurovision: You Decide auditions.
Pro-Palestinian activists urged the onlookers to boycott the competition, with many famous musicians, artists and politicians sharing the sentiment.
British band The Tuts announced via their Twitter page that they had rejected the opportunity to represent the United Kingdom at Eurovision.
So, we got asked to enter EUROVISION 2019 to represent the UK but it’s being held in ISRAEL so that’s a NO from us!
— The Tuts (@TheTutsBand) January 24, 2019
Norma Turner, Chair of Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “We are asking the BBC to boycott the broadcast of Eurovision in an apartheid state, a call endorsed by 50 prominent UK artists and musicians and many famous anti-apartheid heroes who fought against apartheid in South Africa, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the grandson of Nelson Mandela.
“Eurovision’s glitz, glamour and fun is the perfect opportunity for Israel to cover up its occupation, apartheid and systematic denial of Palestinian human rights. That’s why Palestinian cultural organisations, hundreds of prominent artists, and tens of thousands of people around the world have called for the boycott of Eurovision this year.”
But, Raphi Bloom, of North West Friends of Israel, defended Israel, saying: “We’re proud supporters of Israel. It’s the only democracy in the middle east where if you’re gay, you can practice your sexuality freely without fear of persecution.
“These people over there (Palestinian activists) are calling for the UK to boycott the competition because it’s an apartheid state, and that’s a lie. It’s simply not true.
“Israel is the only state in the Middle East where one person has one vote, everyone has a vote.
There are Arab-Israeli members of Israeli parliament, there are supreme court judges that are Arab-Israeli and there are doctors that are Arab-Israelis. There are no separate hospitals, no separate buses, no separate roads. It’s a complete lie.
“Music should unite, not divide. Come to Israel, come to Tel Aviv, it’s a phenomenal city and you’ll love it there.
“We’re here to tell people, don’t listen to the lies, let’s talk, let’s have peace, let’s not have hate.”
Pia Fieg, a vocal pro-Palestinian protestor, encouraged the crowd with chants of “Free Palestine!”
She said: “I hope to achieve that it is not business as usual putting Eurovision in Israel. They are giving highly political action, using all these Eurovision supporters going in here to support a policy.
“They are politicising those supporters of Eurovision by forcing them to support this in Israel.”
Pro-Palestine activist Aaron Sayyadi added: “We fight for equality. We want to be a voice for what’s been going on for a really long time in Palestine. We’re going to fight for the cause, for freedom.
“We are a little, tiny voice of people who still care, who are awake to the things going on. Instead of the people in front us directly, they don’t have the slightest idea of what is going on.”
Max Jacobs, a pro-Israeli protestor, said: “The whole world should come together in peace. Eurovision isn’t about one or another side, it’s about the whole world singing and enjoying it.”