Simon Wiesenthal Centre to European Broadcasting Union: "Investigate Reports of Swedish Anchor's Anti-Semitic Discourse"

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE - EUROPE
Tel. +33-147237637 - Fax: +33-147208401

"The European Song Contest cannot be exploited as a vector for hatemongering"

Paris, 6 February 2012

In a letter to European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Director-General, Ingrid Deltenre, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that, "we have learned from a member in Sweden that Swedish Television has engaged Ms. Gina Dirawi as its programme anchor for the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest in May 2012."

Samuels brought this to the EBU's attention as "the management authority for a contest which is, in essence, a cultural rather than a political event," explaining that, "Ms. Dirawi has, reportedly, on several occasions, suggested that the State of Israel is perpetrating a Holocaust — which she claims to have retracted. Nevertheless, it is now alleged that she persists in characterizing Israel's policies as those of Adolf Hitler."

The letter pointed to the EBU website as "declaring its mission as 'promoting public service values' — a position that should preclude the introduction of the Middle East conflict or banalization of the Holocaust into the Eurovision Song Contest."

Samuels suggested that "the EBU — within the constellation of the European institutions — surely subscribes to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency's provisions against racism, including the Working Definition of Antisemitism which views the application of Holocaust analogies to the Jewish State as contributory factors to anti-Semitism."

He argued that "the assaults against the Rabbi and synagogue of Malmo required intervention by the Stockholm authorities after our Centre imposed a travel advisory on that city in southern Sweden. The situation can only be further aggravated by an annual occasion — when Europe assembles to sing of love and harmony — engaging an allegedly discordant voice of prejudice to your own self-proclaimed values."

The Centre urged the EBU "to investigate the reports of Ms. Dirawi's apparent anti-Semitic discourse and, if substantiated, to call upon your member, Swedish Television, to cancel its contract with her."

"The European Song Contest is watched by millions, especially by young viewers. It cannot be exploited as a vector for hatemongering," concluded Samuels.
 
For further information contact Shimon Samuels at 0033609770158., join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe, and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).