Middle East Politics Having a Big Effect on Eurovision Song Contest

2019-05-15

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1
  • Performers from 41 countries gathered in Tel Aviv's "Culture Square" last weekend for the opening ceremony for Eurovision 2019.
  • 2
  • The 64th Eurovision Song Contest holds semi-final events this week in Tel Aviv, Israel's show business capital.
  • 3
  • The contest will end on Saturday, when the winner is announced.
  • 4
  • The Eurovision finals are being held in Israel because Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the event last year.
  • 5
  • The winning country usually hosts the competition the following year.
  • 6
  • Cypriot singer Tamta was the first contestant to walk the orange carpet in Culture Square.
  • 7
  • Reporters and camera crews followed her every move.
  • 8
  • "Everyone is excited in my team. I'm really happy to be here," she said.
  • 9
  • DJ Darude of Finland said artists behind the scenes at the festival were "slapping high-fives and having a good time."
  • 10
  • The Eurovision song contest is taking place at a time of security concerns in Israel and calls for a boycott.
  • 11
  • Contest organizers are worried about recent violence between Israel and Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
  • 12
  • For now, a ceasefire that went into effect over a week ago has been holding.
  • 13
  • Security in and around Tel Aviv has been increased over fears that activists may try to disrupt the competition.
  • 14
  • The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions or BDS movement is a Pro-Palestinian group.
  • 15
  • It aims to pressure governments, companies, performers and others to cut ties with Israel.
  • 16
  • It has called on singers and broadcasters to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision finals.
  • 17
  • No delegations have yet pulled out of the competition.
  • 18
  • Israel has launched a counter-campaign, criticizing BDS and accusing some of the group's supporters of hating Jews or having ties to militant groups such as Hamas.
  • 19
  • BDS leaders reject these claims.
  • 20
  • Pop star Madonna is supposed to make a guest appearance at the Eurovision finals on Saturday.
  • 21
  • She has rejected calls to boycott the event.
  • 22
  • "I'll never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda," she said in a statement to the Reuters news agency.
  • 23
  • "Nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be."
  • 24
  • John Kennedy O'Connor wrote the official history of the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • 25
  • He noted that "there's definitely more controversy around Israel's contest than past ones."
  • 26
  • I'm John Russell.
  • 1
  • Performers from 41 countries gathered in Tel Aviv's "Culture Square" last weekend for the opening ceremony for Eurovision 2019.
  • 2
  • The 64th Eurovision Song Contest holds semi-final events this week in Tel Aviv, Israel's show business capital. The contest will end on Saturday, when the winner is announced.
  • 3
  • The Eurovision finals are being held in Israel because Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the event last year. The winning country usually hosts the competition the following year.
  • 4
  • Cypriot singer Tamta was the first contestant to walk the orange carpet in Culture Square. Reporters and camera crews followed her every move.
  • 5
  • "Everyone is excited in my team. I'm really happy to be here," she said.
  • 6
  • DJ Darude of Finland said artists behind the scenes at the festival were "slapping high-fives and having a good time."
  • 7
  • Security and politics
  • 8
  • The Eurovision song contest is taking place at a time of security concerns in Israel and calls for a boycott.
  • 9
  • Contest organizers are worried about recent violence between Israel and Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. For now, a ceasefire that went into effect over a week ago has been holding.
  • 10
  • Security in and around Tel Aviv has been increased over fears that activists may try to disrupt the competition.
  • 11
  • The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions or BDS movement is a Pro-Palestinian group. It aims to pressure governments, companies, performers and others to cut ties with Israel. It has called on singers and broadcasters to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision finals.
  • 12
  • No delegations have yet pulled out of the competition.
  • 13
  • Israel has launched a counter-campaign, criticizing BDS and accusing some of the group's supporters of hating Jews or having ties to militant groups such as Hamas. BDS leaders reject these claims.
  • 14
  • Pop star Madonna is supposed to make a guest appearance at the Eurovision finals on Saturday. She has rejected calls to boycott the event.
  • 15
  • "I'll never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda," she said in a statement to the Reuters news agency. "Nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be."
  • 16
  • John Kennedy O'Connor wrote the official history of the Eurovision Song Contest. He noted that "there's definitely more controversy around Israel's contest than past ones."
  • 17
  • I'm John Russell.
  • 18
  • The Associated Press and the Reuters news agency reported this story. John Russell adapted the reports for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
  • 19
  • _____________________________________________________________
  • 20
  • Words in This Story
  • 21
  • contestant - n. a person who takes part in a contest
  • 22
  • carpet - n. a floor covering
  • 23
  • behind-the-scenes - phrase out of sight
  • 24
  • high-five - n. the action of when two people raise one hand each, and push or hit the other person's hand
  • 25
  • disrupt - v. to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way
  • 26
  • counter - adv. in the opposite direction; in conflict with
  • 27
  • agenda - n. a list of subjects or things to be discussed
  • 28
  • controversy - n. a disagreement or prolonged dispute
  • 29
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