Olly Alexander, the UK’s new Eurovision act, has been criticised for signing a statement accusing Israel of genocide and describing it as an “apartheid state”.
Alexander, who was revealed as the UK’s act last weekend after being chosen by the BBC to perform in Malmo next May.
The It’s A Sin star signed an open letter from LGBTQ+ activist group Voices4London, which called for a ceasefire in Gaza and for Israel to allow aid into the area.
The letter says: “We are watching a genocide take place in real time. Death overflows from our phone screens and into our hearts.
“And, as a queer community, we cannot sit idly by while the Israeli Government continues to wipe out entire lineages of Palestinian families. We once said, ‘silence equals death’. Now is not the time to be silent.”
“We cannot untangle these recent tragedies from a violent history of occupation. Current events simply are an escalation of the state of Israel’s apartheid regime, which acts to ethnically cleanse the land.”
The organisation added: “We strongly reject the argument that holding a pro-Palestine or anti-zionist stance in any way promotes antisemitism.
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“We stand against any and all harassment and discrimination against Jewish communities.
“For the many queer and anti-zionist Jewish individuals invested in liberation, this unthinking philosemitism, which hesitates to criticise an ongoing genocide out of fear of being seen to criticise Jewish people, is simply the other face of antisemitism.”
Hamas killed around 1,200 people and kidnapped hundreds more in cross-border attacks on 7 October, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel has since killed nearly 20,000 Palestinians, 70% of whom were women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.
A number of human rights groups have repeatedly labelled Israel an apartheid state, with Amnesty International saying: “The discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries – all are part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.”
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What is genocide?
In response to the Voices4London statement, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism told Sky News that Alexander should be removed as the UK’s Eurovision representative.
“The rhetoric in this letter, which is seemingly endorsed by Olly Alexander, is extreme,” they said.
“It is appalling in particular that it condemns ‘unthinking philosemitism’. At a time when nearly seven in 10 British Jews feel afraid to express their identity in public, this must not be the person to represent our country at the Eurovision Song Contest.
“The BBC can and must right this wrong.”
Philosemitism is controversial term that can refer to a special interest in, respect for, or admiration for Jewish people, Jewish history, or Jewish stereotypes.
According to the American Jewish Committee, it is “often used in a benign and positive way and some may proudly declare themselves ‘philosemites’ in affirmation of their allyship with the Jewish community”.
“However, some use the term to embrace or justify acceptance of stereotypical Jewish tropes like being adept with handling money, being well-connected to politicians, media, and other societal leaders, and more,” the group says.
Sky News has contacted the BBC and Olly Alexander for comment.
The criticism comes amid calls for Israel to be dropped from the Eurovision Song Contest, with many citing Russia’s ban from the show.
Organisers, the European Broadcasting Union, told Sky News this week that Israel would be performing at next year’s contest.
Source : Sky News