Musicians getting it wrong on Israel

On social media right now, it’s open season on Israel. Anyone can say anything - regardless of how hypocritical, misleading or just plain wrong it is - and they’re guaranteed a positive response.

There is currently a plethora of musicians on social media lambasting the Israeli response to rocket attacks from Gaza. There’s nothing new about musicians getting involved in politics and indeed there’s nothing wrong with it. However, all social media influencers have a duty to be accurate in what they say to their followers and – sadly – far too many musicians have been failing this test.

Mary Coughlan, Jedward and Imelda May have all been tweeting about Israel recently (Sources: RSVP.ie, Irish Mirror, bookingagentinfo.com)
Mary Coughlan, Jedward and Imelda May have all been tweeting about Israel recently (Sources: RSVP.ie, Irish Mirror, bookingagentinfo.com)

One example is the singer Mary Coughlan who has been very critical of Israel while not seeming to recognise that Israelis have also been killed in the conflict. On May 15th, she tweeted “Palestinian lives matter” to her followers. When it was pointed out that Israeli lives should matter too and that  missiles from Gaza have killed Israeli children (Jewish and Muslim), she reacted dismissively characterising the threat to Israel as a “few hundred kids throwing stones and the odd rocket“.

Needless to say – given that the number of rockets fired at Israel ran into the thousands – to characterise this as “the odd rocket” shows a deep and scornful contempt for Israeli concerns. The idea that “kids” were launching them is obviously wrong but it raises another question. What if the people launching the rockets were kids? Does that make it better somehow if Israelis are being killed by “kids”?
On the night of May 22nd, during the Eurovision Song Contest final, another singer, Imelda May, posted the highly misleading tweet below. The first error is that there was no Eurovision last year. The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was cancelled due to the Covid19 pandemic.
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Secondly, Palestinians have never been “forcibly removed from their homes for the Eurovision”. This is just wrong. Only she can explain what she’s referring to but all she did was delete the tweet long after the harm was done (it was viewed by at least 1500 people) and issue a vague and half-hearted clarification as per the tweet below.

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It’s possible that what she was thinking of was the 2012 Eurovision in Azerbaijan when residents of the capital, Baku were illegally evicted from their homes by the regime of Ilham Aliyev to make way for a massive venue to host the song contest. How Azeris in 2012 became Palestinians in 2020, only she can explain which she almost certainly can’t.

The 2012 Eurovision in Azerbaijan neatly brings up the topic of Jedward, The blonde twins have recently been using their @PlanetJedward Twitter account to call for Israel to be expelled from the Eurovision for alleged human rights violations against Palestinians. Curiously, the human rights abuses mentioned above that were perpetrated against Azeris don’t seem to have been on the twins’ minds back in 2012 because they performed at that very contest! Indeed, they had a wonderful time (if this report is anything to go by) and don’t seem to have let the issue of human rights abuses bother them at all.

On social media right now, it’s open season on Israel. Anyone can say anything – regardless of how hypocritical, misleading or just plain wrong it is – and they’re guaranteed a positive response. Sadly, too many musical celebrities are taking part in this frenzy rather than acting in a more measured way as voices of reason. The end result will simply be more hatred and hatred solves nothing.

By Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

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