Was Dutch Eurovision contestant disqualified over Israel's war on Gaza?

Was Dutch Eurovision contestant disqualified over Israel's war on Gaza?
Eurovision announced on Saturday that Joost Klein, representing the Netherlands, would not be taking part due to a complaint made by a female crew member.
4 min read
11 May, 2024
Thousands have been marching in Sweden against Israel's participation in this year's Eurovision song contest [Nora Adin Fares]

Dutch contestant Joost Klein has been dropped from Saturday's Eurovision final just hours before the event is due to begin.

Despite Klein's disqualification being due to an incident with a female production crew member, there had been widespread speculation that it was connected to tension between Klein and the Israeli contestant.

Klein had failed to perform at two dress rehearsals on Friday in the Swedish city of Malmo, and organisers had said they were investigating an "incident."

"Swedish police have investigated a complaint made by a female member of the production crew after an incident following his performance in Thursday night's Semi Final," the European Broadcasting Union said in a statement.

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Tension amid Israel's war on Gaza

Israel's participation in this year's contest has been met with outrage, with thousands of protesters marching in Malmo over Israel's war on Gaza. Thousands are expected to protest on Saturday as Israel's contestant, Edan Golan, will be performing in the final.

Eurovision has also gone one step further by banning Palestinian flags and symbols and expressed "regret" over former contestant Eric Saade's opening act wearing a keffiyeh on his arm.

Speculation about Klein's disqualification being connected Israel came after the Dutch singer expressed his opposition to the Israeli contestant.

At the press conference after the second semi-final, Klein repeatedly covered his face with a Dutch flag, seemingly signifying he disagreed with being placed next to Golan.

Earlier, the now-axed contestant pressed Golan to answer a journalist's question about whether her participation made other contestants feel "unsafe" after being told she did not have to answer it.

While there is ongoing speculation that Joost was barred due to his interaction with Golan, the contest says the "incident did not involve any other performer or delegation member".

However, this has not stopped online speculation, with users claiming Klein's disqualification must have been connected to the incident. 

Israel's 'inappropriate behaviour'

Many users online have also called out the contest's hypocrisy for kicking out Klein when Israeli media and its delegation have reportedly been "harassing" contestants and journalists who have opposed Israel's war on Gaza.

"[T]]he fact that zionist press and the israeli delegation is harassing contestants constantly, while the ebu does nothing about that but does consider disqualifying joost klein, is insane to me," one X user said.

"What was this "inappropriate behavior", because the Israeli delegation has been harassing participants and the press from the beginning and you don't give a f**k @Eurovision. Are death threats and harassment allowed in your regulations?" said another.

Another user posted a thread on X documenting instances of Israel "harassing and targeting several artists and people at Eurovision", while the European Broadcasting Union does "absolutely nothing".

The user highlights the Israeli delegation targeting participants who appear to have pro-Palestine views.

Klein has reportedly faced this harassment, with Keren Peles, Israeli delegation member and songwriter of Israel's Eurovision entry, branding Klein as antisemitic and recording him without his permission, while provoking the former contestant by asking why he was not on stage.

"No anti-Semitic [sic] has the right to sing or breathe next to us and won't come close," Peles said on Instagram while also commenting on Klein covering his face.

Greece's Marina Satti was accused of offending by appearing tired when Golan replied to a journalist's question. An Israeli delegation took a photo outside Grecce's door, saying they "don't like" the country anymore, while another said the artist was "ugly inside".

Ireland's Bambie Thug was also targeted by Peles, stating they were not a "friend" and took photos of the singer without their knowledge. 

At the same time, the Spanish network RTVE issued a statement requesting that the European Broadcasting Union ensures freedom of the press after a Spanish journalist was harassed on-site at the competition.

Journalist Juan Ma said he was approached and intimidated by several Israeli journalists after making comments calling for a free Palestine.

"In eleven years that I have been covering #Eurovision I have never felt so unsafe at the festival, "Ma said on X.

"Several Israeli journalists have decided to intimidate and scold me for having shouted #FreePalestine after the Isra-hell rehearsal. They are not going to scare us.

"They are not going to silence us."