Following the outcry in Israel after the Eurovision Song Contest‘s 2nd semifinal, in which Israel was the only country whose map was not shown prior to its song, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the Norwegian hosts of this year’s contest to convey their message. During tonight’s final the Israeli map was indeed shown – albeit missing the west bank. Sources in the MFA told Ynet that they insisted Israel “will be shown as a country with borders, and not some amorphous entity”.
Graphics shown in the ESC’s 2nd semifinal::
Graphics shown in the ESC’s final::
I realize that all this might seem like some kind of a bizarre Rorschach inkblot test, making too much out of a graphical element, but I think flags, anthems and maps are important symbols of independence, and it seems every now and again someone figures Israel is fair game.
Did you watch the European Song Contest‘s 2nd semifinal last night? Did you notice it? It came and went really fast, but did you manage to notice how Israel was wiped off the map?
Before each live performance a short video clip about the participating country was shown, but right before that video some on-screen graphics created the map of each country. Yes, each country but one: Israel.
Right before Harel Skaat took to the stage, the same yellow graphics that filled the screen for each other country, that graphics was now squished to the side and quickly disappeared.
Did the 62 years old Jewish nation get the shaft? Did The Jew Among Nations got the regular treatment? Serbia, a country that got its independence less than 4 years ago got similar treatment in the 1st semifinal; Does that fact make it better or worse?
Here’s the video (Don’t blink during the first few seconds):
Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, The Yes Men, have an unusual hobby: posing as top executives of corporations they hate. Armed with nothing but thrift-store suits, they lie their way into business conferences and parody their corporate nemeses by basically doing everything that they can to wake up their audiences to the danger of letting greed run the world. I have watched their 2003 documentary and was hoping to catch their newest film, when I found out they will be protesting Israeli policies by withdrawing from the Jerusalem Film Festival in solidarity with the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign for Palestine’. Here’s an excerpt from their letter to the JFF:
[...] This decision does not come easily, as we feel a strong affinity with many people in Israel, sharing with them our Jewish roots, as well as the trauma of the Holocaust, in which both our grandfathers died. Andy lived in Jerusalem for a year long ago, can still get by in Hebrew, and counts several friends there. And Mike has always wanted to connect with the roots of his culture.
But despite all our feelings, we cannot abandon our mission as activists. In the 1980s, there was a call from the people of South Africa to artists and others to boycott that regime, and it helped end apartheid there. Today, there is a clear call for a boycott from Palestinian civil society. Obeying it is our only hope, as filmmakers and activists, of helping put pressure on the Israeli government to comply with international law.
[...] To those who want to see our film, savlanut and sabir (patience)! And for all the rest of us, a little LESS patience, please.
L’shanah haba’ah beyerushalayim,
Andy and Mike
The Yes Men
After reading their full letter I still disagree with their action but I do so respectfully. Here’s what we’ll be missing:
I am starting to get more and more uncomfortable with the messages I get from the US President I helped elect. First it was the Cairo speech in which the word ‘Palestine‘ was used in a way that insinuates the discussed state already exists. Apparently the only eyebrows that were raised were mine and MSNBC’s RachelMaddow‘s.
But now the White House has put out a video celebrating Muslim Americans who serve in the U.S. Government. That was all fine and dandy, until I got to the part about Lema Bashir whose father is apparently “Palestinian from Northern Palestine“. Neither the White House nor the State Department thought the wording was inappropriate – on the contrary, courtesy of the State Department who translated this video into 10 languages, you can now choose the captioning to be insulted in: