Boy George, Sharon Osbourne, Gene Simmons & More Sign Letter Rejecting Attempt to Bar Israel From 2024 Eurovision Song Contest

A wide-ranging group of more than 400 musicians, actors, agents and managers and studio executives signed an open letter to the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest rejecting attempts by some participating countries to bar Israel from participating in this year’s event. Among those lending their names to the letter from the non-profit entertainment industry organization Creative Community for Peace were: Helen Mirren, Liev Schreiber, KISS’ Gene Simmons, Scooter Braun, Boy George, Sharon Osbourne, Emmy Rossum, Mayim Bialik, Debra Messing, Diane Warren and Selma Blair, among many others.

The letter supports the European Broadcasting Union’s commitment to including Israel in this year’s contest amid calls last month from Swedish and Finnish artists demanding Israel’s exclusion from the contest over their belief that including the country “undermines” the spirit of the competition. The letters cited Israel’s ongoing response to the deadly Oct. 7 surprise assault on the nation from Hamas militants in which more than 1,200 Israelis — mostly civilians — were murdered, sexually assaulted and attacked and more than 250 were taken hostage.

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“We have been shocked and disappointed to see some members of the entertainment community calling for Israel to be banished from the Contest for responding to the greatest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust,” the letter reads. “Under the cover of thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately into civilian populations, Hamas murdered and kidnapped innocent men, women, and children.”

Artist manager Braun added, “Music is a place for unity not division. It is a language that should always bring us together. Artists should never be discriminated against for who they are, who they love, or where they’re born. These boycott efforts do nothing but distract from the uplifting and unifying power of music – something we need now more than ever.”

KISS’ Simmons, who was born in Israel to a Holocaust survivor mother, wrote, “Music unites people from all backgrounds. It’s the one language that everyone can understand. It’s a beautiful thing and a great way to bring people together. Those advocating to exclude an Israeli singer from Eurovision don’t move the needle towards peace, but only further divide the world.”

Last month’s letter from a group of more than 1,000 Swedish artists — this year’s Eurovision will be held in the the Swedish city of Malmö from May 7-11 — requested that Israel be barred from participating over it’s “brutal” response to the Hamas attack, citing the “humanitarian disaster” in Gaza.

“We who sign this are 1,000 artists who believe in music as a unifying force. The Eurovision song contest began as a peace project with the ambition to unite countries and citizens through music,” read the Swedish letter, whose signers included Robyn, First Aid Kit and Fever Ray. “Allowing Israel’s participation undermines not only the spirit of the competition but the entire public service mission. It also sends the signal that governments can commit war crimes without consequences. Therefore, we appeal to the EBU: Exclude Israel from the Eurovision song contest 2024.”

To date, the 130-day war has reportedly led to the deaths of more than 28,000 Palestinians, the destruction of much of the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure and the displacement of more than one million Gazans. The Swedish letter joined earlier, similar requests to exclude Israel from more than 1,400 artists in Finland and Iceland.

The open letter from Creative Community for Peace — the first public call of its kind from the entertainment industry voicing unequivocal support of Israel’s inclusion in the contest — highlights Eurovision’s ability to unify people from diverse backgrounds and music’s power to effect positive change in the world.

Other signatories on the open letter include: Julianna Marguiles, Ginnifer Goodwin, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr., Skylar Astin, Atlantic Records Group CEO Julie Greenwald, Universal Music Publishing Group CEO Jody Gerson, Warner Records CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck, Patricia Heaton, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Disturbed’s David Draiman, Tom Arnold, Columbia Pictures chairman Tom Rothman and MRC co-founder/co-CEO Modi Wiczyk.

The letter notes that Israel has along and stories Eurovision history — including hosting in 1979, 1999 and 2019 and winning in 1978, 1979, 1998 and 2018 — while offering up a diverse group of contestants representing the Palestinian, Ethiopian and LGBTQIA+ communities. “Furthermore, we believe that unifying events such as singing competitions are crucial to help bridge our cultural divides and unite people of all backgrounds through their shared love of music,” it reads.

“The annual Eurovision Song Contest embodies this unifying spirit. Every year, millions of people across Europe and around the world join in a massive display of cultural exchange and celebration of music. Those who are calling for Israel’s exclusion are subverting the spirit of the Contest and turning it from a celebration of unity into a tool of politics.” Click here to see the full letter.

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