Palestine: Eurovision Marred by 71 Years of Al Nakba
20-05-2019: This year, the annual Eurovision song contest coincides with the 71st anniversary of Al Nakba (The Catastrophe), when 750 000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands in 1948 to enable the violent founding of the colonial setter state which became Israel. The awarding of Eurovision to Israel took place after the Israeli entrant Netta Barzilai won the contest in 2018. Yet the suffering of Palestinians living in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza continues.
Just a few weeks before the Eurovision song contest took place in Tel Aviv, the Western media dishonestly claimed that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were carrying out missile strikes on Gaza “in response” to rocket attacks from Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian resistance organisation. In fact, the IDF has relentlessly been pounding Gaza for months without response from Hamas. IDF strikes have reportedly caused the death of 20 Palestinians so far this year, many while taking part in the weekly Friday protests against the suffocating blockade of Gaza. In other words, the IDF repeatedly strikes Gaza, causing fatalities – and the Palestinians continue their protests regardless. When Hamas finally relents, and fires off rounds of rockets into Israel – most of which are shot down by the “Iron Dome” Israeli defence system – the Western media hypocritically paint Palestine as the aggressor. They routinely claim that the Israeli state is only “responding” to the rocket attacks, when in fact it has goaded and provoked Palestine until they can take no more.
BDS calls for a boycott of Eurovision
For some time, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has called for a boycott of this year’s Eurovision song contest purely because it is taking place in Israel. While BDS campaigners are correct to highlight the grinding oppression of Palestinians carried out by the Israeli state, calling for a boycott of Israel with regards to Eurovision begs a few questions. For example, in which other European country should the Eurovision song contest take place? In the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands or Denmark? Or how about Australia, now that Australia is a competitor in Eurovision? The governments of the UK, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia all took part in the criminal proxy imperialist war on Syria, carrying out air strikes “against” ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria. In reality, they were aiding and abetting the barbaric death squads armed and funded by the US and Israel.
In an instant, it is plain to see that the Israeli state is not the only European state which carries out war crimes against innocent people. Yet many BDS advocates were virtually silent during the entire imperialist war on Syria, even when Israel’s role in it became known – and after Israel’s repeated missile strikes on Syria. As recently as April this year, the IDF reportedly struck the Syrian town of Masyaf in the province of Hama, wounding 6 soldiers. For all of the bluster from BDS advocates, they tend to operate as if Palestine exists in a vortex, unrelated to the Middle East and world politics. No one is louder in their condemnation of “Israel”, and yet no one is more silent than when Israel bombs anyone else apart from Palestinians, e.g. next door neighbor Syria.
With a few exceptions, another glaring incongruity BDS advocates display is their hostility to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Zionist Israeli state regards Iran as a bitter enemy, and most BDS advocates echo this position, no matter how many times they throw up their hands in horror at “Israel”. Iran is also currently being threatened, yet again, by Washington without all out nuclear war. Despite Iran’s assistance to Palestinian resistance groups, many BDS advocates are the first ones to call for “regime change”, i.e. imperialist war by another name, in Iran. They don’t appear to be aware of a contradiction.
Imperialist backing of the Zionist Israeli state
BDS advocates are also largely silent on the real source of the Zionist Israeli state’s lifeline – US imperialism. Whole rallies and demonstrations can take place organised by BDS supporters, and not once is the Pentagon or the US state named. However, without military and financial backing from the US state, the Israeli state would arguably collapse within six months. Yet BDS does not call for a boycott of the US, only “Israel”. Before Marxists can advise workers to take part in any international campaign, it must first demonstrate that it stands in opposition to the interests of US imperialism. Unfortunately, BDS does not pass this first marker. Instead, BDS attempts to work with and alongside imperialist governments, by lobbying them to apply sanctions (the “S” in BDS) on Israel.
In practice, BDS attempts to paint “Israel” as a state which is wrong in a moral sense. However, there are no morals which workers and capitalists share in common, and certainly no morals which oppressed Palestinians share with the US state department. We do not at all deny that the state of Israel came into being through a murderous expulsion and ongoing occupation of the original inhabitants. Yet this is what also occurred for the colonial settler states of Australia, New Zealand and even the United States itself. If they were consistent, BDS advocates would call for a boycott of all colonial settler states.
While we would defend BDS advocates against repression from the right, at the same time we urge them to strive for consistency in a world threatened by US imperialism. We recognise that the suffering of the Palestinians is unbearable. But to defend Palestine, working people around the world must oppose the very real threat that the economic crisis of world capitalism produces – unending imperialist wars launched by Washington and all of its allies. To definitively defend Palestine, BDS advocates must also defend Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Russia, China and the DPRK against the nefarious ends of the Pentagon. International socialism, through a series of workers’ revolutions in the imperialist centres, is ultimately the only guarantee against world war. Likewise, Palestinian liberation is bound up with the overthrow of capitalism in its region, which necessitates the joint efforts of Israeli and Palestinian workers. Ridding workers of capitalism and imperialist war is a single task, in Palestine no less than in Australia. BDS advocates must decide where they stand.
 https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/israel-continually-strikes-gaza-and-hamas-hasnt-fired-back/ (20-05-2019)
 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-48160098 (20-05-2019)
 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161206-denmarks-decision-to-withdraw-from-airstrikes-on-syria-and-iraq/ (20-05-2019)
 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isis-syria-iraq (20-05-2019)
 https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-chief-acknowledges-long-claimed-weapons-supply-to-syrian-rebels/ (20-05-2019)
 https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/04/14/syria-says-israeli-airstrike-on-military-position-wounds-6/ (20-05-2019)