opinion   |   column

Israel is not fit to organize the Gay Olympics



Every year since 1956 the world has been blessed by the Eurovision Song Contest

As one of the world’s longest-running and most-viewed contests broadcast on television, Eurovision is an international competition in which more than 40 eligible nations gather to compete with performances of original songs. 

This contest has been colloquially called “The Gay Olympics” as it has been known to advocate for LGBT rights through performances from drag queens and transgender people. 

This competition has sparked a few incredibly successful careers ,such as that of ABBA, Bucks Fizz and Céline Dion. 

It was decided in 1958 the winning country would henceforth manage the contest the next year within its borders, and although this event has been known to provide nations with a temporary, effective tourist opportunity, there have been times when a country was unable to accommodate the expenses necessary to manage the competition. 

For example the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the United Kingdom presented the contest after winning countries were unable to do so in 1960, 1963, 1972 and 1974. It started becoming known as the default option when a winning country declined to do so. 

Earlier this month Israel rightfully won this year's contest with Jetta’s performance of “Toy,” a song supporting female empowerment and inspired by the popular #MeToo movement. This has deemed Israel the nation responsible for the 2019 competition. 

However, due to the harsh, divided political climate, social injustices and economic hardships that are continually prevalent in Israel, it is time for the BBC to come back out and save the day by offering to manage the contest in 2019. 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing since the mid-20th century, and it does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. 

There have been many deadly protests in the area. For instance just last week 60 Palestinians were killed and over 2,700 were injured in Gaza, and Israel is defending its actions on the matter. 

Likewise, Israel seems to be moving closer to warfare with Iran. There was an Israeli airstrike that killed two dozen Iranian soldiers just a couple of weeks ago.

Aside from international disputes, Israel has been known to restrict people’s natural rights to free speech. For instance, last December Barak Cohen was sentenced to 300 hours of community service after simply criticizing the Israeli government on his Facebook account.

Eurovision is a competition with regional bloc voting, meaning countries have rivalries within the competition — just like sports — so it is inevitable that there will be verbal backlash toward the Israeli government while there to compete.

Furthermore, it was only seven years ago when 430,000 Israeli citizens took to the streets to protest for social justice. 

Similarly, Israel’s economy is in a terrible place. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the country has one of the worst rates of income inequality and poverty with nearly a quarter of the population below the poverty line — which was $7.30 per day according to a CIA estimate in 2014. For a note of comparison, the poverty rate is less than 13 percent in the U.S., and the poverty line is over double that of Israel at nearly $16.00 per day according to the U.S. census bureau

Israel is one of the least popular countries in the world in the eyes of other countries according to a BBC poll.

I do not want to be misunderstood, however. I am not saying that Israel is a bad nation, not worth a visit or even wrong in its border battles with Palestine. 

I am saying, however, that Israel is not fit to put on the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. The U.K. is a significantly more convenient, safer and economically affordable option.

The U.K. would also be able to uphold a more entertaining contest, considering the size of venues available. The contest would take place at Israel's International Convention Center, which is the largest convention center in the Middle East, yet has a capacity of only 3,104.

Let’s be honest – it will be 2019, and Eurovision is getting bigger, more popular and more flamboyant each year. That is why it needs a worthwhile venue. The U.K. last managed Eurovision in 1998 in the Arena Birmingham, which has a capacity of 15,800, making an excellent venue for next year’s contest. Likewise, there exists the Manchester Arena, The O2 Arena and Alexandra Palace, which all have even large capacities.

Israel has every right to organize this competition, however, it simply is not in the best interest of the nation itself or any participants in the contest. Until Israel decides to not go to war with Iran, shoot down civilians and promote inequality, Eurovision should take place elsewhere. 

It is of equal responsibility of the BBC and the Israel Broadcasting Authority to make this decision, and do so in a timely manner to ensure economic stability in both countries as well as a well-planned event. 

Eurovision is meant to be an amusing and diplomatic competition, so the presence of active war and injustices would further be unjust to the other competing nations. 

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