Kate Miller-Heidke Urged To Boycott Eurovision By Israel BDS Campaign
Pink Floyd star Roger Waters has joined calls for performers to boycott the Eurovision contest in Israel, but Australia's entrant is sticking firm to her commitment to appear.
The Eurovision song contest will be held in Tel Aviv from May 14, with Israel winning the right to host the globally-televised event after its singer Netta won the 2018 competition.
Australian star Kate Miller-Heidke will represent Australia in this year's event, after winning a public vote in February.
But the pop singer is under pressure to pull out of Eurovision, as the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) campaign calls on entrants to take a stand against what they claim are human rights violations by the Israeli government in the contested Gaza and West Bank areas.
The push has been slammed by Israeli voices as "morally defective", "bigoted" and an "ugly smear campaign".
In noting Miller-Heidke's previous advocacy for refugees, Waters -- frontman of iconic British rock band Pink Floyd -- asked her to reconsider her appearance.
"If you go to Tel Aviv and sing, [you] will be used by the Israeli government to whitewash the occupation and it's gone on too long," he said, in a direct appeal in a video shared by BDS Australia.
"If you care about refugees, if you care about human rights, you will be the one to stand up and say, 'you know what guys, I'm not prepared to be part of this whitewash. I would love to sing for you but it's going to have to be after all the people in the holy land have equal human rights under the law'.”
Dozens of artists and creative figures -- including Peter Gabriel, actress Miriam Margolyes, designer Vivienne Westwood and rock band Wolf Alice --signed an open letter, published in The Guardian in February, calling for a boycott of Eurovision 2019.
This week it was confirmed that Madonna would perform as part of the event.
Waters has made similar boycott requests to other contestants.
10 daily has contacted Miller-Heidke's management for comment. She has been quoted as telling the Press Association that she plans to appear at the contest, despite the campaign.
READ MORE: Madonna Will Be Performing At Eurovision
"I just can’t see how this is going to advance that part of the world towards solution," Miller-Heidke was quoted as saying, in relation to calls to boycott.
"I have a lot to learn and I am looking forward to being there for two and a half weeks, and having the chance to meet Palestinians and people from different sides and deepen my learning and understanding.”
Recent statements from the United Nations have condemned Israel for what it says are human rights violations, calling for an end to the "excessive use of force" against Palestinian protesters in Gaza.
Five Palestinian children have been killed in the past two months, according to the UN, and more than 60 Palestinians were killed in Gaza in the days following Israel's 2018 Eurovision win.
The BDS campaign is inspired by the apartheid-era boycotts of South Africa, said Bassam Dally, vice president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and an Israeli citizen of Palestinian background.
He said it's about drawing attention to what the BDS campaign claim are violations of international law.
"We're not anti-Israeli, we're not anti-art, we're not anti-culture," Dally told 10 daily.
"But we're making a point that, if Israel wants to be accepted as an international country, it has to comply with international law."
He said it was "disappointing" Israel would host Eurovision, despite international condemnation.
"As everyone is celebrating in Tel Aviv, they are shooting children on the Gaza borders... and ignoring atrocities just a few kilometres away," Dally claimed.
But Dr Dvir Abramovich, chairman of Australia’s civil rights organisation the Anti-Defamation Commission, has defended Miller-Heidke's participation in the competition.
"Did Mr Waters advocate for the Eurovision show that was hosted by Russia in 2009 to be cancelled or for any other country that won to be denied that right?" he said in a statement, condemning the BDS campaign as "morally defective".
"We are confident that Ms Kate Miller-Heidke will refuse to cave in to hatred and to a campaign that is bigoted in its origins and will repudiate the forces of division by representing the Australian people in Tel Aviv next month and using her talent and fame to advance the cause of understanding and peace.”
Abramovich called the BDS movement "extreme", accusing supporters of "malicious double standards" and an "ugly smear campaign".
"Roger Waters continuously singles out Israel, and Israel alone, for a cultural boycott, while ignoring the world’s true human rights violators such as China, Russia, Turkey, Venezuela, Yemen, Myanmar and many other countries that commit actual crimes against their citizens," he said.
"The ultimate goal of the BDS effort is to make Israel a pariah state, and regardless of their motives, those who jump on the BDS bandwagon should know that this anti-normalisation effort is cultivating an atmosphere which paves the way and justifies violence against Jews.
"Boycotting Israel is no different to boycotting Jewish businesses in pre-war Germany. The BDS movement, which undermines the possibility of a two-state solution, and is antithetical to the values of compromise and peace, must be unequivocally repudiated and condemned."
Bruce Knobloch, campaign organiser for BDS Australia, denied claims the campaign was anti-Semitic.
"It's a false claim. We have Jewish and Israeli supporters around the world that support this. It's a human rights campaign that says Palestinians deserve equal rights," he told 10 daily.
"Jewish people are part of the peaceful future here, in a place with equal rights. It's not anti-Jewish, but it's saying Israel has been built on a racist policy. I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Jewish people fighting anti-Semitism, and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Jewish people any time against anti-Semitism."
Knobloch said that broadcaster SBS, which will show Eurovision, had turned "a blind eye" to the BDS campaign.
"That’s really disappointing considering SBS's history, and it has upset people. We hope people will really learn about what’s happened to Palestinians, the violence and racism they suffer," he said.
"Whether or not people watch, that’s up to them, but we hope that campaigning for a boycott, more people will understand what going on and they should care about it."
In a statement, SBS defended the choice to show the contest.
“SBS respects and supports the right for people to express their views. SBS has been proudly broadcasting Eurovision for 35 years and we will continue to do so in 2019 because of the spirit of the event in bringing people and cultures together in a celebration of diversity and inclusion through music," an SBS spokesperson said.