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Swedish ESC participant Malena Ernman (2009): Greta Thunberg's mother also signed

Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky / epa / dpa

More than 1,000 Swedish artists have called on the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to exclude Israel from this year's Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). The newspaper Aftonbladet published an open letter on Monday signed by musicians Robyn, Fever Ray and the indie folk duo First Aid Kit.

The artists from the host country of this year's ESC criticized the EBU's decision to allow Israel to take part in the competition - despite its "brutal warfare in Gaza," as the open letter said.

Other signatories include former Swedish representatives at the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2011, Eric Saade took third place with “Popular”. The opera singer who sang “La Voix” for Sweden in 2009 is also there: Today, Malena Ernman is almost better known as the mother of Greta Thunberg. The climate activist had already prominently criticized Israel's actions in the Gaza war. Thunberg also promoted support for pro-Palestinian groups that had previously attracted attention with anti-Semitic theses. She was sharply criticized for this.

The organizers of the ESC had previously opposed calls for Israel to be excluded, citing the non-political nature of the music event. The Swedish artists now accused the EBU of double standards. They pointed out in the letter that after Russia's attack on Ukraine in 2022, no Russian musicians were allowed to take part in the ESC, and that in 2021 Belarus was denied participation due to press freedom violations.

Voices had also previously been raised in other countries to exclude Israel from this year's ESC. The country has been particularly criticized for civilian casualties in Gaza.

Icelandic television has already announced that it will only decide together with the winner of its Söngvakeppnin competition, which traditionally serves as a preliminary decision, whether they want to take part in the ESC final in Malmö if Israel is there.

The 68th ESC is taking place in Sweden this year after singer Loreen won last year's competition in Liverpool with the song "Tattoo" for the Scandinavian country. At the beginning of December, the EBU published a list of 37 participating broadcasters - including KAN from Israel.