Maxine Peake, Miriam Margolyes, Peter Gabriel, Ken Loach, Dame Vivienne Westwood and band Wolf Alice are among 50 stars urging for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 to be relocated from Israel.
Citing the country’s “systematic violation of Palestinian human rights”, the group of artists – also including Alexei Sayle, Mike Leigh and Reverend & The Makers – have called for the BBC to press Eurovision to move the competition from Tel Aviv.
“The European Broadcasting Union chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem – but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces,” the letter, published in The Guardian, said.
“The BBC is bound by its charter to ‘champion freedom of expression’. It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed.”
However, the BBC said Eurovision was “not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign”.
A statement given by the broadcaster said: “The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons.
“Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC.”
The letter comes a week before Eurovision: You Decide, the show where the public will vote for the act who will represent the UK.