'Yes BDS': Queer pro-Palestine activists stage YMCA spoof to urge Israel Eurovision boycott

'Yes BDS': Queer pro-Palestine activists stage YMCA spoof to urge Israel Eurovision boycott
London Palestine Action have released a video spoof of the gay anthem, in which they call on host Graham Norton to boycott the competition and 'stand up for justice instead'
3 min read
10 May, 2019
The spoof mimics the setup of the original video [Facebook]
A group of queer pro-Palestine activists have released a spoof version of YMCA calling on Graham Norton to boycott the Eurovision song contest which is due to take place in Israel on May 18.

TV presenter Norton is set to host the BBC coverage of the contest, however Palestinian activists and solidarity campaigners have accused Israel of 'pinkwashing' war crimes against Palestinians, and are urging people to boycott Eurovision - the world's biggest music event - as part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

Released by activist group London Palestine Action and entitled "Yes BDS", the spoof lyrics plead Norton not to go to Israel and "stand up for justice" instead.

The video's all-queer cast, fronted by drag king Beaujangles and featuring prominent Jewish LGBTQ+ activist Dan Glass, pay homage to the 1978 original, even using arm movements to spell out BDS for the chorus.

Leila White from London Palestine Action said: "We wanted to appeal to Graham Norton the way only queers know how – through the medium of YMCA. We had a lot of fun making this camp, joyful video but our message is very serious."

"There should be no business as usual with an apartheid state. Graham Norton should listen to Palestinians and heed their call for a boycott of Israel until it stops its systematic denial of Palestinians rights. We say no to pinkwashing, yes to BDS!"

Many activists accuse Israel of "pinkwashing", using LGBT+ culture and icons to cover up and distract from its occupation of Palestinian land and oppression of the Palestinian people.

"By falsely juxtaposing 'oppressed gay Palestinians' with 'liberated gay Israelis', and by flattening out relations of power and the political realities of occupation and the Apartheid wall, pinkwashers aim to harness the global LGBT movement into supporting Israel at the expense of the Palestinians," say anti-pinkwashing group Pinkwatching Israel.

Eurovision is a case in point, as the camp musical extravaganza is especially loved by the queer community.

The lyrics to "Yes BDS" were first written to protest Israel's 2018 Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai's appearance at LGBT+ nightclub Heaven last November.

As Eurovision approaches, London Palestine Action are planning to release three Madonna spoofs, including "Madonna Don’t Go", a parody of Papa Don't Preach, as the Queen of Pop is due to perform at the star-studded event in Tel Aviv.

The Gaza Strip-based Palestinian Artists Association has also called on Eurovision song contestants to boycott the competition, saying that Israel is using the event to "perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime."

Last weekend, the Israeli military carried out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, killing 27 Palestinians, including two pregnant women and a 14-month-old baby girl.

Earlier this year a 50-strong coalition of British cultural figures including Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne and Marina Abramović, penned an open letter to the BBC, demanding it call for the annual competition to be moved over Israel's "systematic violation of Palestinian human rights".

The BDS movement began in 2005 following a call by 170 Palestinian civil society groups.

Its supporters take inspiration from the campaign used by international activists to end apartheid in South Africa by isolating Israel politically and economically.

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