Home » Dalle (CD&V) does not want Israel to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, but coalition partner N-VA sees this differently

Dalle (CD&V) does not want Israel to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, but coalition partner N-VA sees this differently

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Flemish Media Minister Benjamin Dalle (CD&V) does not want Israel to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. But coalition partner N-VA does not agree with that position.

Flemish Media Minister Benjamin Dalle (CD&V) wants to remove Israel from the list of participants of the Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place in Sweden at the beginning of May. “I do not think it is appropriate in times of war to celebrate a powerful celebration of connection together with a partner who so violates humanitarian law and the rights of innocent civilians and children,” he says in an interview on Radio 1. He asks the VRT therefore to support its position within the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). This is the association of public broadcasters that organizes the song competition and therefore ultimately decides on Israel’s participation.

Striking: Dalle is not expressing a government position. On the contrary. His words are diametrically opposed to those of Jan Jambon (N-VA) a day earlier in the Flemish Parliament. There, the Flemish Prime Minister announced that his government is not in favor of such a cultural or sporting boycott. “A boycott must be directed against a regime and not against individual citizens who participate in sports, culture or against academics who do their job,” he said.

Benjamin Dalle sees it differently. “In principle, I also think that we should make a distinction between the government and the participants. The Eurovision Song Contest should be an apolitical event,” he responds. “But in this case, I find the situation in Gaza so egregious that it becomes difficult to apply that principle to a singer who is a national of a country that today massively violates international humanitarian law.” He also refers to the EBU’s decision to ban Russia in 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine.

“Electoral interest”

Coalition partner N-VA is having a hard time with that comparison. “Israel did not ask to be attacked by the terrorist organization Hamas.” This is what Michael Freilich, Member of Parliament for N-VA, says. “I believe that we are all in favor of lasting peace, but you cannot enforce it this way. What Dalle is doing here is importing the conflict to Europe. And yet there is no agreement at all on this matter between the various European countries.” There is therefore no such unity between the coalition partners. According to Freilich, Dalle, who is running as party leader for the Brussels parliament in the elections, is mainly playing solo out of “electoral interest”. “With this message he hopes to convince many Muslim voters,” it said.

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Benjamin Dalle is far from the only one calling for Israel’s participation to be suspended. French-speaking culture minister Bénédicte Linard (Ecolo) delivers the same message. “The blatant violations of international law in Gaza must first end,” she said. Similar voices are being raised abroad.

Previously, the song with which Israeli candidate Eden Golan wants to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in May also caused a stir. It allegedly contains possible political references to the Hamas terrorist attack of October 7, 2023. Israel threatened to withdraw from the match after comments were made. But the country is now prepared to adjust the text.

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