Jewish organisations call Eurovision protest by VRT unions 'reprehensible'

The Flemish Forum of Jewish Organisations (FJO) has called the protest action by VRT unions during Thursday's Eurovision Song Contest broadcast "reprehensible and inappropriate".

The broadcast of Eurovision's second semi-final on the Flemish public broadcaster VRT was briefly interrupted to show a trade union message condemning human rights violations by Israel.

"This is a trade union action," read a banner appearing on the screen. "We condemn the human rights violations committed by the state of Israel. In addition, Israel is destroying press freedom. We are therefore briefly interrupting the broadcast. #CeasefireNow #StopGenocideNow."

'Utterly one-sided'

The FJO on Friday said the action turned an entertainment programme into a "platform for indoctrination and political action" and condemned the message for being " utterly one-sided".

"The FJO rejects and condemns the mixing of entertainment with political indoctrination as utterly reprehensible"

"But even if the projected text met the minimum conditions of balance, the FJO rejects and condemns the mixing of entertainment with political indoctrination as utterly reprehensible," the FJO said.

The FJO also said it rejected accusations that Israel violates press freedom, saying that "Israel has the freest press in the entire Middle East", but that "as a country at war, it has a duty to set limits on incitement and the spread of hatred in order to protect its citizens". 

Right to take action

"We have been watching the events in the Middle East with horror for months now," a spokesperson for the ACOD-VRT union said Thursday, explaining their action. "We are convinced that the state of Israel is carrying out a genocide and therefore it is scandalous that there is an Israeli entry in the Eurovision Song Contest," they said.

"The unions have the right to take action and do not need permission to do so"

Israel's participation in this year's Eurovision Song Contest has led to protests in the host city of Malmö, calls for a boycott of the event and criticism of the "double standards" of the European Broadcasting Union, which excluded Russia from taking part in 2022 following its invasion of Ukraine.

The VRT unions had informed the public broadcaster's management about the action in advance. "The unions have the right to take action and do not need permission to do so," a VRT spokesman said. The ACOD-VRT union said it did not rule out a repeat action during the Eurovision final on Saturday.


#FlandersNewsService | Screens in the control room of Flemish public broadcaster VRT in 2022 © PHOTO BELGIAN_FREELANCE

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