Lebanon Should Participate In Eurovision 2018

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The Eurovision is quite the global thing. More than 200 million people tune in each year to watch the show, not just from the 42 countries which happen to be members of the European Broadcasting Union that have the right to participate, which is why you see countries such as Israel or Australia or even Azerbaijan participating.

The 2017 version of the Eurovision concluded yesterday with Portugal getting crowed the winner after votes from the people in those 42 member countries and their juries allocated points. They succeed Ukraine, which was voted the winner in 2016 in an obvious political jab at Russia.

The Eurovision, apart from being a celebration of (bad?) music, isn’t only about the music but about the politics behind all the ways these countries interact with one another. Regardless, it’s still interesting to watch and pretend to be surprised that Cyprus, for instance, voted for Greece. I’m shocked. Can you even fathom it?

In 2005, Lebanon was supposed to participate through Tele-Liban and Aline Lahoud in that year’s version of the Eurovision. Except, as is always the case, Israel happened. You see, Israel also happens to be a member of the European Broadcasting Union and has been since the 1950s, which means they’ve been participating for over 4 decades in the Eurovision contest and have actually won 3 times.

The problem for us, therefore, becomes in the fact that we pretend they don’t exist and have laws that forbid us from even acknowledging their existence, which was why we had to withdraw in 2005, be banned from participating for 3 years and pay a penalty: Tele-Liban didn’t show Israel on the official poster of the event. When they were confronted about it, they replaced the poster with a generic one about Eurovision. They were then told they’d have to broadcast the Israeli contestant’s song, which they couldn’t legally do, leading them to withdraw.

Israel, however, will not be participating in the 2018 Eurovision, as they announced live on air yesterday as they allocated their points. Their announcer said:

“This is IBA, Channel 1 calling from Jerusalem. For the past 44 years, Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, winning three times. But tonight, is our final night, shortly IBA will shut down its broadcasting forever, so on behalf of all of us here in IBA, let me say thank you Europe for all the magical moments and the beautiful years. And hopefully we shall meet again in the future.”

For how long Israel won’t be participating in Eurovision remains to be seen, but I believe this gives Lebanon an opportunity to finally participate and avoid all the drama we went through in 2005. And why wouldn’t we? We have good singers, as long as we don’t send Star Academy grads. And we can deliver a good show, if we invest enough.

I believe that private TV stations such as MTV and LBC would and should jump at such an opportunity. They’d get the ratings, the ad money and the international exposure they always crave. It’s also a good medium for the country to have exposure on such a scale, in a setting that doesn’t involve talking about the Syrian crisis or some other issue that plagues the region.

So dear MTV or LBC or some other private media company with similar resources, connect with the organizers of next year’s Eurovision and check what we need to do in order for us to participate. It should be fun.

No, this isn’t a Phoenician attempt at building bridges with European BFFs It’s not a political move, even if the competition can have political undertones, at distancing Lebanon from its Arab history. It’s just a medium for fun, healthy artistic competitions and we need such things in this country.

I vote to send Hiba Tawaji. Who’d your pick be?

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5 thoughts on “Lebanon Should Participate In Eurovision 2018

  1. Good poiint, perceiving things from this angle without any drama ,is always positive mentally, and would make a positive beginning of way of thinking for many Lebanese i hope and would just make the opportunity fun and to learn and experience from Eurovision. Positivee 🙂

    I love your blog

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  2. A misunderstanding was created in the message transmitted live while the scoring was given from Israel.
    Israel is not withdrawing from the Eurovision, but is only moving to a new broadcasting authority, due to the closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, which has been broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest until today.

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  3. IBA was shut down but a new Israeli public channel started broadcasting tonight – IPBC.
    The spokesperson just said that IBA which broadcasted ESC all these years is closing. But there is a replacement. This happened also in Greece some years ago and there was no problem in its participation in the contest the following year. That means Israel will participate in 2018!
    And Lebanon should participate too, but be able to air the Israeli song, showing the world it’s a democracy (is it?)

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  4. The countries that are regarded European at the Eurovision Song Contest has nothing to do with geographics or politics, but with the European Broadcasting Area. It is why the non-European countries of Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Israel are regarded as European during the contest. And hence why there is a lot of opposition when it comes to Australia, as they are the only non-European country in even the terms of the European Broadcasting Area.
    It is also why Lebanon holds the right to enter, even though it is currently blocked.
    As you’re right, Lebanon can’t enter because of the denial of Israel’s existence.
    That being said, you caused me a questioning frown when I read “No, this isn’t a Phoenician attempt at building bridges with European BFFs It’s not a political move”.
    The reality is that there are strong political ties between Lebanon and the European Union since 2002 already when the ” EU-Lebanon Association Agreement” came into effect, so it couldn’t even be a political move, as Lebanon is an ally already. Also when it comes non-EU countries, like here in Ukraine, as the last time I checked the ties between Lebanon and Ukraine are also very strong.

    Anyhow, it is quite possible Lebanon will enter in a future version of the Eurovision Song Contest, although not this year.
    Politics are shifting quite quickly and there are ongoing peace talks between the Arab Nations, including Lebanon, and Israel, and peace seems to finally be in sights after about 100 years…
    It’s said it is once again based on the Arab Peace Initiative, which previously was agreed upon by both the State of Palestine and Israel, yet sadly due to circumstances never came into effect.
    If the talks will be successful, the laws in Lebanon regarding the denial of Israel would instantly come to be ineffective, as it is one of the agreements in the Arab Peace Initiative.
    Meaning that there should be no longer any problem for Lebanon to enter Eurovision.

    And I will be honest, I really hope the day Lebanon enters comes sooner rather than later. As the bad doesn’t need a question mark, the music at the Eurovision Song Contest is generally quite bad, most often there are like 3 good countries. And yet, like you also voiced, the votes mostly end up being spread on political ties.

    In terms of Lebanese singers, my choices would far too famous regardless, as I would name someone like Nancy Ajram or Yasmine Hamdan.

    Oh, and an important side-note regarding the Lebanese laws, as I know many people are not aware of this.
    As much as several Arab nations have laws forbidding the recognition of the existence of Israel, Jews are forced to recognize and support Israel based on the scriptures of the Torah.
    Making the choice for any Jew to either support Israel or to be silent, as speaking out against Israel is an act of defying the Jewish beliefs.

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