KISS Frontman Gene Simmons condemned a pro-Palestinian boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest next week in Tel Aviv.
“Let music be heard throughout the world, whatever your political point of view is,” the rocker told The Daily Caller.
Eurovision is the world’s largest non-sporting televised event, in which each of 41 countries enter a song and compete over three rounds. The country that wins in any given year becomes the host the following year (Israeli singer Netta won last year for her song “Toy”).
Advocates of the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) movement have called on broadcasters to refuse to televise the event, but none have agreed to drop the highly rated program.
BDS aims to isolate and delegitimize Israel through non-violent means. It has been criticized for holding Israel to an unfair standard not faced by any other country in the world. (RELATED: BDS Leader: Greatest Threat To BDS Is Calling Us Terrorists)
European celebrities on both sides have lined up on either side of the debate. In fact, it’s become something of a Battle of the Bands – with rockers Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, and Brian Eno encouraging boycott; and with Sharon Osbourne, Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun, and Simmons condemning it.
In fact, more than 100 public figures signed a letter last month warning against “subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division.” They called for “building bridges through music and the arts as a means to achieving greater understanding and peace in the region.”
Simmons, who was born in Israel, has objected to BDS activists in the past – calling them “fools” who should be boycotting Middle East countries that, unlike Israel, do not allow their people to vote.
So far, the 13-year-old BDS movement has largely focused on academic conferences and institutions. With Eurovision, though, the volume is amping up as some of the most recognized names in music have chimed in.
For example, Waters wrote a public letter to singer Madonna, asking her to withdraw her planned participation in the event because of “Eurovision’s betrayal of our joint humanity.” He accused Israel of what he called “bad stuff” like supposed ethnic cleansing and “the incarceration of children.”
Though neither Madonna nor any of the national delegations have agreed to withdraw from the event, protests are still expected. Boycotters in several countries demonstrated outside Eurovision venues, and in France intruders mounted the stage to hold up BDS signs during the national semi-finals.
Israeli celebrities like “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot and supermodel Bar Refaeli have confirmed their participation in the event, which Israel is hosting for the third time.
Given the recent rockets Hamas has sent into Israel, ticket sales to the event have lagged.