Artists such as Nick Cave, Radiohead and Lana Del Rey have been criticised for organising concerts in the country.

Miriam Margolyes, Nick Seymour and Vivienne Westwood are among those who have called for the Eurovision Song Contest to not be held in Israel, citing human rights concerns.

50 artists, of various vocations, have penned an open letter to the BBC, urging organisers to reconsider due to Israel’s military occupation in Palestine. 

"Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights," the signatories wrote

"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 annual contest is due to be held in Tel Aviv in May, following Israeli singer Netta's victory in 2018. It is customary that the winning country hosts the following year's competition.

"When discrimination and exclusion are so deeply embedded, Eurovision 2019’s claim to celebrate diversity and inclusion must ring hollow," the piece continues. 

"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."

The letter comes just a week before 'Eurovision: You Decide' – a live BBC TV show through which the British public will vote for the act to represent the UK – sets to air. 

"For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honour," the letter reads.

"They and the BBC should consider that “You Decide” is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot decide to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid. Even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship were told in the nation-state law passed last year that only Jews have the “right to national self-determination”."

In response, the BBC said it was not appropriate "to use the BBC's participation for political reasons".

"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."

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