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Finnish Artists Want Israel Banned From Eurovision Over Gaza War

Over 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals have signed an appeal to put a ban on Israel from Eurovision over accused “war crimes” in Gaza.

They want public broadcaster Yle to take back Finland’s entry from the competition in case Israel is not disbarred from the competition.

Yle stated that it is inspecting the position of the organizer of the contest, European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Last month, musicians in Iceland also made related demands to broadcaster Rúv.

One of the petition’s authors, Lukas Korpelainen, told the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet Israel does not agree to “take part in the Eurovision Song Contest to polish its image”.

The people who signed are Finnish artists Olavi Uusivirta, Paleface and Axel Ehnström, who became representatives of the country in the 2011 competition.

They alleged Yle of contradictory standards by saying the broadcaster was at the top who demanded a ban on Russia from the 2022 contest, “and we expect the same active defending of values from Yle now as well”.

Russia launched its full-blown arrogance of Ukraine in 2022. One day after that incident, Ville Vilén, a representative of Yle, said Moscow’s attack was “contrary to all the values that Yle and other European broadcasters represent”.

The EBU soon after banned Russia from taking part.

Mr. Vilén said the situation in Israel and Gaza was “not quite the same”.

Last month, he told Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat: “As gruesome as it is, it is not a war of inter-state aggression like between Russia and Ukraine”.

Yle’s head of communications Jere Nurminen told Hufvudstadsbladet the company was monitoring the circumstances and talking to the EBU and other public broadcasters.

Yle is also thinking about meeting the petition’s authors.

Why are Israel and Hamas fighting in Gaza?

The EBU said in a statement in December last year that Eurovision was “for broadcasters – not for governments” and Israel had participated in it for 50 years.

It said associations of organizations had agreed that Israel’s public broadcaster Kan “complies with all competition rules” and claimed that the contest was a “non-political event”.

When the BBC approached Kan, he refused to argue.

This year’s Eurovision will transpire in the Swedish city of Malmö and superstar Olly Alexander will be the representative of the United Kingdom.

When it came out that Alexander had supported a statement alleging Israel of genocide, an Israeli official told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper the arguments were “absurd” and accused signatories of “anti-Israel bias”.

According to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry, more than 23,350 people have been killed in Gaza during Israel’s military campaign – mostly women and children were included in them.

The war began after an attack by gunmen associated with Hamas – which is relegated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, UK and other Western governments – on southern Israel. About 1,300 people were killed in the war and most of them were ordinary citizens, with about 240 others taken captive.

Before moving up to ground action, Israel started retributory air strikes on Gaza with the stated aim of “destroying Hamas’s military and governing capabilities” as well as freeing the captives.

For the purpose of putting pressure on Hamas, Israel has accurately lessened the amount of food, water, medical supplies and fuel allowed into Gaza since the beginning of the war. UN agencies say 26% of Gazans – 576,600 people – have fatigued their food availability and handling capacities and face “catastrophic hunger and starvation”.

According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, 1.9 million Gazan residents -round about 85% of the population – have been homeless, and 1.4 million of them are seeking protection in its facilities.

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