NGO Monitor: Exploiting the Coronavirus for Anti-Israel Campaigns
The news cycle has been dominated by COVID-19, and a number of advocacy NGOs have made statements linking their agendas to this issue. In the Israeli context, this is consistent with previous attempts by NGOs to capitalize on prevailing public discourse, for instance manipulating narratives of climate change and LGBTQ rights as part of their anti-Israel campaigns.
The most notorious example today is a tweet from Sarah Leah Whitson, currently at the Quincy Institute and previously head of the MENA division at Human Rights Watch. Whitson used the classic antisemitic blood libel in responding to a cynical tweet about “6 million jewish israelis” understanding life under “occupation” due to the virus, stating “such a tiny taste. Missing a tablespoon on blood.” (March 14, 2020).
NGO statements relating to Israel and COVID-19 deal with a few common themes:
– “Occupation”: COVID-19 has been appended onto the standard anti-occupation rhetoric and existing campaigns that, for some NGOs and activists, are presented as the most pressing and real global concerns. Tellingly, complaints about Israeli policy in the West Bank do not seriously grapple with whether they will effectively curb the spread of disease, but rather presume that Israel must be acting in bad faith because “occupation.”
– Responsibility for Gaza: 15 years after the withdrawal, NGOs continue to blame Israel for a “humanitarian crisis” based on a unique standard of international law applied to Israel alone that denies Hamas and other actors agency for diverting resources to weapons, tunnels, and terror, instead of public infrastructure. In the current context, NGOs have been using COVID-19 as an excuse to criticize legitimate anti-terror policies and to preemptively blame Israel for an outbreak in Gaza.
– Human Rights Watch (HRW): On March 15, 2020, Executive Director Ken Roth tweeted, “The coronavirus will test the wisdom of Israel’s policies for crippling the economy and health systems of Gaza and the West Bank. As the occupying power (for Gaza, too, given Israel’s severe restrictions on movement), Israel is responsible for health care.” (March 15, 2020)
– Omar Shakir retweeted an article in +972 magazine titled “West Bank lockdowns didn’t start with the coronavirus pandemic.” The article argues that Israel’s quarantine regarding anyone who had been in Bethlehem is harmful to Palestinians working in Israel. This ignores the implementation of the same policies for the entire Israeli population, as well as tourists and anyone who had been in the vicinity of infected individuals – causing many to miss work. (March 11)
– Amnesty International: A local Amnesty UK group in Mid Gloucestershire published an article using coronavirus as a hook to further Amnesty’s antisemitic campaign that attacks international tourism companies (see NGO Monitor’s report). The article states, “This year many people’s holiday plans will be affected by coronavirus, and travellers will obviously want to get proper advice before they book. However, holidaymakers should also consider whether their vacations could negatively impact the people and places they visit. One example is holidays and activities in Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem…Please support our petition calling on TripAdvisor to ‘check out’ of the settlements – www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/checkout.” (March 14)
Daniel Pipes: Conspiracy Theories in a Time of Virus
Suddenly, influential voices blame the COVID-19 virus not on Communist China but on the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel. This shift fits a pernicious medieval pattern that needs to be taken seriously and refuted.
That pattern goes back to about 1100 A.D. and the Crusaders in Europe. Since then, confused folk hoping to make sense of unexpected and malign developments have the permanent option of conjuring up a world conspiracy. When they do, they overwhelmingly blame just two alleged conspirators: members of Western secret societies or Jews.
Secret societies include the Knights Templar, Freemasons, Jesuits, Illuminati, Jacobins, and the Trilateral Commission. Jews are supposedly ruled by a shadowy authority, the “Elders,” that strictly keeps them in line through such front organizations as the Sanhedrin, the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
In modern times, conspiracy theorists have added countries to the organizations: secret societies spawned the United Kingdom and the United States, Jewish Elders became Israel. Invariably, this trio of states is blamed for shocking surprises such as the JFK assassination, Princess Diana’s death, 9/11, or the Great Recession.
And so it is with COVID-19. The virus demonstrably originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, perhaps at a “wet market” with live animals awaiting human consumption, perhaps at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or perhaps a mix of the two (infected animals from the institute sold for food at the market). That the Communist Party of China (CPC) went to extreme lengths to cover up the virus both facilitated its growth and then obscured its source.
But what happened next is known to nearly every sentient person alive today: the virus spread from Wuhan to other parts of China, thence to the world. Everyone reading this has lived through and experienced that recent history; no mystery surrounds the CPC’s unique responsibility for the pandemic. Wuhan virus is not a racist slur but an accurate description.
Recent days have seen an outbreak of antisemitism related to the coronavirus and Covid-19.
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization that fights bigotry, reports, “Extremists hope the virus kills Jews, but they are also using its emergence to advance their antisemitic theories that Jews are responsible for creating the virus, are spreading it to increase their control over a decimated population, or they are profiting off it.”
The actress Rosanna Arquette claims, falsely, that Israel has been working on a coronavirus vaccine “for a year already,” indicating advance knowledge of the virus, and that a Jewish-run company is poised to profit from it. A speaker from the 2016 Republican National Convention, David Clarke, blames Jewish-born billionaire George Soros for the virus and associated panic.
The head of a Turkish political party, Faitih Erbakan, declared, “this virus serves Zionism’s goals,” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.
If history is a guide — and there’s no reason to think it shouldn’t be — expect even more of this as the pandemic worsens.
In the 2017 book Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World, Laura Spinney reports that in 1919, when “an international bureau opened in Vienna with the express mission of fighting epidemics,” one of the first things that happened was that “antisemitic elements started lobbying for Jewish refugees to be quarantined in eastern European concentration camps.”
Earlier pandemics yielded similar hatreds. The Jewish Encyclopedia entry on the Black Death that raged in Europe from 1348 to 1350, for instance, reports, “The Black Death not only resulted in the immediate destruction of hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives and the loss of Jewish homes and property in hundreds of communities, but had more far-reaching consequences. Popular imagination invested the already odious image of the Jew with even more horrible characteristics. It was this image that helped to shape the stereotype of the Jew represented by antisemitism and racism in modern times.”
Video clips of two Arabic interviews given by MK Heba Yazbak (Joint Arab List) reveal her battle against Zionism and ambition to eliminate Zionism and the State of Israel’s Jewish and Zionist character.
In one of the videos, Yazbak can be heard saying, “We want to fight – with all our strength – racism, apartheid and Zionism. We will work with all our strength on our project of ‘a state of all its citizens.'”
In the second interview, Yazbak says, “At the same time as we are joining the Knesset in order to achieve civil rights that we can use. We in Balad (Yazbak’s faction in the Joint Arab List – ed.) are holding our compass strong – this is a state of all its citizens.”
“This plan opposes and fights the country’s Zionism and prides itself of divesting the country of its Jewish and Zionist existence, and at the same time preserves our national identity, without sacrificing full citizenship and without sacrificing citizenship.”
Yazbak has come under fire for praising terrorists who murdered Israelis, including expressing regret over the elimination of terrorist Samir Kuntar, who smashed the skull of four-year-old Einat Haran in the Nahariya terror attack in 1979, and whom she called a “hero.”
Just as Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) exonerates Muslims wholesale for anti-Semitism, the group exempts racial minorities for it as well. In an interview with the Democracy Now radio show in late December, JFREJ executive director Audrey Sasson referred to New York City’s recent onslaught of anti-Semitic attacks as a manifestation of white nationalism—despite the fact that the majority of incidents were perpetrated by African Americans. In the December 28th stabbing attack on five Hasidic Jews at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York, for example, the assailant was a 37-year-old black male who reportedly Googled topics such as “Why did Hitler hate Jews,” “Zionist Temples in Staten Island,” and “Prominent companies founded by Jews in America.”
Some leftist Democratic politicians have dabbled in similar scapegoating. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example, claimed that the rash of hate crimes in New York City was a “right-wing” problem. On Twitter, Representative Rashida Tlaib blamed “white supremacy” for the Jersey City shooting at a kosher supermarket that took the lives of three Jews and a non-Jewish police officer, even though both perpetrators were African Americans and one was affiliated with the Black Hebrew Israelites—a black supremacist and anti-Semitic hate group.
De Blasio later backtracked on his comments, and Tlaib deleted her tweet. But JFREJ has upheld the notion that there is no anti-Semitism apart from white supremacy, including retweeting an article from the socialist magazine Jacobin that claimed the best way to fight anti-Semitism “is to reject the centrist idea that anti-Semitism transcends politics,” and declared it was “pernicious” to point out that Jew-haters exist on the left and the right.
Yet every week, it seems, another video appears on social media, or in the news, showing a black American verbally or physically attacking a visibly Jewish victim. The attacks range from anti-Semitic tirades to throwing objects, spitting, beating, stabbing, and shooting. Indeed, one could rightly describe these frequent and vicious assaults on Jews as a slow-motion pogrom.
What is JFREJ’s solution to this problem? Apparently, the first step is to deny that it is happening at all. The group’s website claims that the real issue is “white Jews’ preoccupation with black anti-Semitism,” stoked by “a false narrative…that focuses on conflict between white Jews and black non-Jews.” And who does the organization see as the true “architects of this conflict”? Get ready for it: “Ku Klux Klan terrorists in the South forcing African-Americans to flee to northern cities”—Ku Klux Klan terrorists, that is, who were last active a century ago.
More than 60 Democrats have called on the Trump administration to press Israel not to use U.S. military equipment to demolish Palestinian homes.
In a letter sent on Monday to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the 64 House Democrats—spearheaded by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)—cited the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, which stated that there’s been a 45 percent increase in home and other civilian demolitions in 2019 compared to the previous year.
Congress members requested a probe as to whether Israel is following the requirements for recipients of U.S. defense equipment in accordance with the Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
“The United States should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive practice,” stated the letter. “The faithful implementation of the AECA is one important oversight tool for ensuring that U.S.-origin defense articles and other items recipient countries purchase with foreign military financing are not used for such purposes outside the scope of ‘legitimate self-defense.’ ”
It’s unknown if Israel uses U.S. military equipment to demolish homes, some of which belong to Palestinian terrorists and their families, though the Jewish state has used Caterpillar land-moving equipment for that purpose. Israel has demolished homes that it has said were built illegally.
The Democrats gave Pompeo until April 30 to respond.
More coronavirus conspiracy theories: Linda Sarsour is helping to spread the unfounded rumor that Cuba has a cure for the virus but the US won’t use it because capitalism. This is irresponsible behavior from a Bernie Sanders campaign surrogate. pic.twitter.com/zuRRG3EPRs
— (((kweansmom))) (@kweansmom) March 17, 2020
The man who came forward to say on the record that leftist congresswoman Ilhan Omar married her own brother has told DailyMail.com he is now in fear for his life.
A woman close to Omar posted a YouTube video packed with degrading insults about wheelchair-bound Abdihakim Osman and pressed members of her Somali-American clan to go after him.
Osman has made a complaint to police in Minneapolis and repeatedly demanded that YouTube take down the offending video — which was met with silence from the media giant until DailyMail.com asked why it was still on the site.
It finally removed it on March 10, replacing it with a note saying: ‘This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying.’
In the video, the woman, Malyun Ali, asked members of Omar’s Majeerteen clan ‘What is wrong with you?
Witten in the Somali language and translated of a special in African languages at the University
‘Why are you not protecting us from this nasty man who is composed only of a head and a stomach,’ she added, insulting his disabled status.
‘You Majeerteen men…why don’t you defend us from this person…this fat ram who gets money taken from the taxes we pay.’
She went on to say Osman has a ‘big bell, small udder, pillar-like head’ and mocked his disability which was caused by contracting polio as a child in Somalia.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and new husband Tim Mynett—who is also her campaign consultant—are downplaying the campaign cash the freshman lawmaker funneled to his consulting firm. But campaign records show that Omar’s campaign has been by far the firm’s biggest client, funneling more than half-a-million dollars to the group in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, almost half of all the money the company took in from federal candidates.
Omar and Mynett announced their marriage last Wednesday after vigorously denying they were engaged in a romantic relationship.
Now Omar’s campaign and Mynett’s firm, the E Street Group, a campaign consultancy for progressives, are defending their professional relationship from critics who have charged that Omar broke the law by improperly using campaign money for personal travel—in particular, to reimburse Mynett’s travel from California to Washington, D.C., to visit Omar.
Mynett’s business partner, Will Hailer, swatted down those criticisms, arguing that Omar is one of the group’s run-of-the-mill clients. “On any given day, eight or more people could be touching her account at some point, between design, digital ads, social media, email content creation, high-dollar fundraising, political support, and many other things that we provide for the campaign,” Hailer told the Washington Post. “Similar to what we provide for countless other clients across the country.”
A review of campaign finance records, however, found that the firm has just 17 clients and that Omar has been the firm’s largest for the entirety of its existence. During the 2018 cycle, Omar paid the E Street Group $62,674 for fundraising consulting and was one of just four of the firm’s campaign clients. Omar, who has spent $523,443 in total on the group’s services in the 2020 campaign cycle, remains the firm’s largest political client, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The coronavirus is a Zionist plot spread by Jews to decrease the world population, some members of Turkey’s press and public have said, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.
MEMRI, which specializes in translating Middle Eastern media into English, has uncovered a number of incidences of Turks blaming the coronavirus epidemic on Jews and Zionism.
In a video posted to Twitter on March 13 by IMChaber24, a minibus driver and his passengers can be heard engaging in antisemitic conspiracy theories. The driver claims that all outbreaks, from AIDS to Ebola, were created by pharmaceutical companies, before asking: “And to whom do the companies belong?”
A passenger suggests “the rich,” but the driver immediately counters with “the Jews.”
A fellow passenger then opines that the Jews “will do anything to end the lineage of the Turks,” to which another adds: “Not only Turks, sister, they will do anything to bring the world to its knees.”
The driver then has the last word on the matter, saying: “Anyway the Jews are a cursed race.”
This attitude can also be found among Turkey’s political class. On March 6, Fatih Erbakan, head of Refah Party and the son of former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, was reported to have said in a speech: “Though we do not have certain evidence, this virus serves Zionism’s goals of decreasing the number of people and preventing it from increasing, and important research expresses this. Erbakan said: ‘Zionism is a five-thousand-year-old bacteria that has caused the suffering of people.'”
Erbakan is widely believed to have been current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political mentor.
In an interview last week, Columbia University’s Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Rashid Khalidi, told fellow Columbia professor Bruce Robbins, “I am a great believer in the artificiality, in the constructed nature, in the entirely modern nature, of nationalism and nations. I don’t think they have the ancient roots they all claim.”
This would seem to undermine a key tenet of Khalidi’s worldview: his insistence that the Palestinian people have a long history.
In a New York Times review of Khalidi’s recent The Hundred Years’ War On Palestine, Scott Anderson summarized the professor’s thesis: “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is best understood as a war of colonial conquest, one that closely hews to the pattern and mind-set of other national-colonial movements of the 19th century.”
So, on the one hand, Khalidi claims all nationalisms are artificial constructs, while on the other — the central thesis of his book and much of his previous scholarship, in fact — he argues that Palestinian nationalism is an inviolable concept threatened by phony Zionist colonialism.
If nationalism is a construct, then all forms of it are artificial, including Palestinian nationalism.
An obvious weakness with Khalidi’s thesis is that for it to be valid, he must deny over 2,000 years of Jewish history in what is now Israel. Yet this history is regularly confirmed by new archaeological discoveries.
Khalidi’s intellectual inconsistency undermines his own scholarship while denying over two millennia of widely accepted history. Hardly convincing, but very convenient.
700 years ago Jews were blamed for the plague and massacred.
— David Collier (@mishtal) March 18, 2020
US rapper and producer Jay Electronica — a friend of Louis Farrakhan — released his debut album on Friday and it’s already causing controversy.
On the “Ghost of Soulja Slim” track, about a late rapper friend, Electronica raps in the second verse:
Peter Rosenberg, a Jewish radio personality who appears on multiple rap and sports shows, took issue with the lines. At first he tweeted about a different reference Electronica made to the “synagogue of Satan,” one of multiple phrases from the New Testament that has prompted theological debate throughout history. Rosenberg said the phrase made him uncomfortable.
But then Rosenberg corrected his mistake, saying he meant to discuss Electronica’s more recent use of the line, showing in the process that Electronica has used the term more than once.
Rosenberg didn’t comment on the Rothschild line, even though the prominent European Jewish banking family is referenced in a number of the more well-known international anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
But the Rothschild name check also could be an allusion to a past rumored romance between Electronica and Kate Rothschild, a member of the family who had a business relationship with the rapper.
The song also begins with audio from a speech by Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam who has called Jews “satanic” (among other things) in the past. Electronica is a longtime member of the Nation of Islam, and he and Farrakhan are close — despite the fact that his raps are full of profanity, which is shunned by the Nation. Farrakhan has defended Electronica’s profanity in the past.
Jay-Z, who earned some words of caution from the Anti-Defamation League for one of his own rap lines in 2017, is featured on the track and heavily throughout the album titled “A Written Testimony.”
In a series of heated tweets to Rosenberg, Electronica said he stands behind “every single word” on the album. Electronica challenged Rosenberg to a public forum of sorts with theological scholars, then Rosenberg invited him onto his morning show — but the beef seemed to end there.
Qatari Women’s Rights Activist: Women Fleeing Gulf because Violence against Them Is Not Criminalized
On March 5, 2020, Qatari women’s rights activist Aisha Al-Qahtani was interviewed on Al-Hurra TV (U.S.). She said that women are fleeing the Gulf countries because there are no laws that criminalize violence against women, because complaints of violence are dismissed because the state refuses to “interfere in domestic problems,” and because institutions that are meant to protect women are too focused on the women’s reputations and are entirely ineffective as a result. She said that women are also fleeing because the culture, society, and politics in the Gulf states are conservative, patriarchal, tribal, and based on masculine ways of thinking, such that matters such as residence, employment, marriage, and transport are controlled by men. Al-Qahtani called for the passing of a law that would criminalize violence against women, for women to be allowed to own property, for all travel restrictions on women to be lifted, and for the establishment of a civil state that would turn the Gulf countries from monarchies into modern states. She added that a civil state is the only way to guarantee justice for women and that her ideas do not contradict religious texts or the countries’ constitutions.
In a stunning display of misleading journalism and demonstrating its anti-Israel agenda, Reuters promotes the myth that restrictions on Gaza are somehow comparable to global quarantines defending against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In the article, Reuters shares a number of tweets from Gaza residents such as this one:
We in Gaza have been living this for 14 years.
Reuters did not commit an ethical breach by sharing tweets from Gaza residents: Gaza is a part of our world and is deemed newsworthy. However, as body of professional journalists, Reuters has a duty to also share context and balance. For example, Reuters:
– Makes no mention of the 11,560 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel that necessitated a blockade in the first place.
– Shares no balancing tweets from the Israelis who have lived (and died) under that rocket fire.
– Makes no mention of the massive arms shipments from Iran that the Gaza blockade has prevented, nor how many innocent Israeli lives were saved as a result.
– Fails to mention that Hamas (the group that rules Gaza) is officially designated as a terror organization by Australia, Canada, Egypt, the EU, Israel, the UK, and the United States.
– Fails to mention that the Hamas founding charter commits the terror group to the total destruction of all of Israel.
– Does not even mention the significant cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian health officials.
Once again we see that while the BBC apparently thinks it useful to provide audiences with tools to navigate the Israeli political map, it does not provide any such signposting regarding the Joint Arab List. Instead, that list is portrayed as “representing Israel’s Arab minority” – the 16% of the Israeli electorate that the BBC inevitably chooses to portray as one monochrome group.
Information about the politics and ideologies of the four parties that make up the Joint Arab List is however crucial for members of the BBC’s audience who wish to understand both this story about Gantz trying to form a coalition government and another alternative apparently on the table but not adequately explained by the BBC – an emergency government. As Haviv Retting Gur notes at the Times of Israel:
“The Arab factions united in the Joint List are a diverse collection of liberals, Islamists, progressives and ultra-nationalists. Most are openly anti-Zionist and some have expressed proud and open support for ruthless terrorists responsible for some of the most infamous atrocities ever inflicted on Israelis. […]
One signal of a political faction’s seriousness can be found in its willingness to soberly prioritize its many goals and to sacrifice less-important ones for those that matter more. That may sound obvious, but a party like Balad, one of the four factions that make up the Joint List, had proved over the years that it could not look past its obeisance to radical Palestinian nationalism. Its members have joined the 2010 Turkish flotilla to Gaza, praised a murderer of Israeli children, and even spied for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.”
So while the BBC is capable of identifying “religious” parties allied to the Likud and describes Yisrael Beitenu as “nationalist”, it refrains from informing its audiences that, for example, one of the parties making up the Joint Arab List (Ra’am) is also a religious group and another (Balad) is no less nationalist.
— Eye On Antisemitism (@AntisemitismEye) March 18, 2020
Amazon has banned the sale of most editions of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and other Nazi propaganda books following decades of pleas by Holocaust education organizations and Jewish groups.
Booksellers were informed in recent days that they would no longer be allowed to sell a number of Nazi-authored books on the website, including “Mein Kampf,” The Guardian reported Monday on its website, citing Amazon emails to sellers.
In one email seen by the Guardian, sellers of secondhand copies of Hitler’s Nazi manifesto were told that “they can no longer offer this book” since it breaks the Amazon website’s code of conduct.
Despite the campaigns for at least two decades for Amazon to stop selling copies of “Mein Kampf,” Amazon had cited free speech rights in continuing its sale. Last month, the Auschwitz Museum called out owner Jeff Bezos for making a profit on “vicious anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda.”
Dozens of inexpensive Kindle eBook editions of “Mein Kampf” also have been deleted from Amazon’s listings, as has Hitler’s Amazon author page, according to the report.
Amazon did not comment to The Guardian on the reasons for the policy change, but a recent intervention to remove the books by the London-based Holocaust Educational Trust had received the backing of leading British politicians, the newspaper reported.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor Hillel Furstenberg has become the first Israeli to win the Abel Prize, known as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. He was named as the winner of the prestigious award Wednesday by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and will share the prize with Grigory Margulis of Yale University “for pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory and combinatorics.”
The Abel Prize, established by the government of Norway in 2001 “to give the mathematicians their own equivalent of a Nobel Prize,” carries with it a cash award of 7.5 million Norwegian kroners ($834,000).
Furstenberg and Margulis invented random walk techniques, a central branch of probability theory. A random walk is a path consisting of a succession of random steps. These techniques were used to investigate mathematical objects and introduced probabilistic methods to solve many open problems in group theory, number theory, combinatorics and graph theory.
“Furstenberg and Margulis stunned the mathematical world by their ingenious use of probabilistic methods and random walks to solve deep problems in diverse areas of mathematics,” said Hans Munthe-Kaas, chair of the Abel committee. “They brought down the traditional wall between pure and applied mathematics,” he continued, “and opened up a wealth of new results…with applications to communication technology and computer science.”
The Eurovision song contest, one of the world’s largest television events, will not take place this year due to the global coronavirus outbreak, organizers said on Wednesday.
“It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam,” they said in a statement. Travel restrictions and the possible danger to contestants and fans had made it “impossible to continue with the live event as planned,” they said.
The contest has been held annually since 1956, and was expected to draw up to 200 million viewers and a live audience of tens of thousands for the final on May 16.
Organizers said they were now not sure where the week-long event will be held in 2021.
Broadcasters and “the City of Rotterdam will continue a conversation regarding the hosting” of the 2021 contest, they said.
Eurovision features live musical numbers from each participating country — more than 50 countries in recent editions, reaching beyond European borders to Israel and Australia. Countries vote for each others’ entries in a complex system beloved by fans.
The Netherlands was to host the 2020 event after Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 event with a song called “Arcade.”
Eurovision contestant Eden Alene cried Wednesday afternoon during a live interview, as it became clear that the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world.
“Now it’s real, what he said means it’s canceled for sure,” said Alene to Kan interviewers as they showed Eurovision Broadcasting Authority executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand announcing the contest’s cancellation. “But is there still hope?”
At the start of the interview, Alene said she wasn’t sure if the contest was being postponed or was canceled.
“I wanted to go and do it and to win and felt that we had… I saw the reactions that people so loved the song and its message and meaning and it’s so disappointing,” said Alene.
While Alene may get to perform her song next year, it’s a disappointing situation, she said.
“This is something minor compared to what’s happening,” she said. “It shows how terrible the situation is. I saw it happening, I’m not blind. The rehearsals kept getting canceled, and the events. I saw it coming.”
Yet when Ola Sand’s statement was shown, Alene was taken aback by the finality of his statement.
“My birthday was supposed to be at Eurovision,” she said, tearing up. “It just hurts inside.”
Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir posted on Twitter a photo of Tel Aviv that she took from space.
The usually bustling Israeli city is seen looking desolate amid the spread of the coronavirus.
“Gazing down at the city in which my father was raised, I take to heart one of his most uttered expressions, ‘This too shall pass.’
“Wise words to remember, in both good times and bad. Goodnight #TelAviv #Israel! #GoodnightFromSpace #TheJourney #EarthStrong,” she tweeted Tuesday.
Meir frequently posts photos of Earth taken from the International Space Station, where she has been since late September. In November, she posted a photo of Israel, a tribute to her father.
Gazing down at the city in which my father was raised, I take to heart one of his most uttered expressions, “This too shall pass”. Wise words to remember, in both good times and bad. Goodnight #TelAviv #Israel! #GoodnightFromSpace #TheJourney #EarthStrong pic.twitter.com/oHoMLdBytD
— Jessica Meir (@Astro_Jessica) March 17, 2020
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