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30/04/2019 12:09 BST

Eurovision Winner Netta Says Boycott Over Israel Live Final Is 'Spreading Darkness'

"I personally think it is bullying to artists."

Reigning Eurovision champion Netta has responded to the controversy surrounding this year’s competition, which has led many to call for it to be boycotted.

Netta won the competition last year with her all-singing, all-clucking beatboxing tune Toy, marking the fourth time that Israel have won Eurovision.

However, with this year’s celebratory event scheduled to take place in Israel next month, many have voiced their disapproval, suggesting it’s inappropriate to hold the show there due to the ongoing conflict in the country.

Speaking to journalists from the Foreign Press Association about the backlash, Netta suggested those calling for a boycott were “spreading darkness” at what is supposed to be a joyous occasion.

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Netta

She said: “Being on the same stage, no matter what your religion or ethnicity or colour, from all these countries, from all these cultures, this is a festival of light.

“For people to boycott light is spreading darkness. It’s the exact opposite thing.”

The singer continued: “I personally think it is bullying to artists. If you have a demonstration, go and make it where it should be. My business isn’t representing. My business is music, and my business is spreading light and love.”

Netta did add that she does not consider herself a “political person”, stating: “I represent Netta. Netta loves Israel. Netta loves her people but when I will say my political opinion, I will bring hearts apart instead of bringing them together.

“Yes, I am Israeli, and I will let politicians do their work.”

 

Earlier this month, HuffPost UK caught up with Britain’s entrant Michael Rice to get his thoughts on the controversy, to which he admitted it wasn’t a matter he knew much about.

“Honestly I’m a singer, I can’t get wrapped up in hundreds of years of history,” he explained. “Do you know what I mean?

“It’s a difficult one, isn’t it? But I’m literally coming just to sing. I’m a musician. And I’m only 21, I’m not a history expert, I’m just here to sing and do my country proud.”

He also pointed out that at its heart, Eurovision is about “unity”, adding: “That’s what I’m going there to do.”

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Tel Aviv on May 18.

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