This week, the website 4il.org published details of a report by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs into a huge and well coordinated campaign using bots and fake accounts to encourage artists and people to boycott the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv. It’s a fascinating but sobering read and shows how a tiny number of individuals can use social media to reach a vast worldwide audience to spread a message, whether that message is one of love or hatred, truth or lies.
On social media, one person can pretend to be thousands of people (Source: Moshik Gulst)
For those promoting boycotts of Israel, it was all meant to be so different. Nearly a decade and a half into the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, Israel should – by now – be completely isolated economically, culturally and academically. The fact that it isn’t and that the country is about to host one of the biggest music events of the year shows how little effect they’ve had.
It must be even more galling for BDSers that Israel won the right to host this event by winning last year’s song contest with votes from over 40 European countries in which the public played a major part. The BDSers expected that the very word “Israel” would be toxic by now but clearly the ordinary people of Europe are not buying their propaganda. Out of 43 participating countries, in only two (Slovenia and Denmark) did the public fail to rate the Israeli song, artist and performance as one of its favourites. Even in Ireland, where the loud but ineffectual BDS campaign gets a very easy ride from the media, the public rated the entry in its top five. From Iceland to Azerbaijan, from Portugal to Russia, the people loved Netta Barzilai and her quirky song.
Stung by this rebuff, the boycotters were hellbent on doing what they could to sabotage the contest. However, once again, they’ve failed. Not one country or artist has given the remotest indication of acceding to their boycott demands and when the first batch of tickets went on sale in February, they were snapped up within 10 minutes. In the case of Ireland, two recent online polls show huge public support for our participation in the Eurovision.
So, it’s no surprise that pro-boycott groups would try anything, whether fair or foul to undermine the contest. Why? Because the very fact that Eurovision 2019 is in Israel reminds BDSers of their continuing failure.
by Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh