Olly Alexander not boycotting Eurovision doesn't make him the enemy

The singer had been urged to drop out of the contest.

This week Britain’s Eurovision competitor Olly Alexander and several other entrants rejected calls to boycott this year’s contest, despite a backlash over its inclusion of Israel.

Maxine Peake and the author Sarah Schulman were among a list of more than 450 queer artists, individuals and organisations who signed an open letter as Queers for Palestine urging the It’s a Sin star to pull out of the contest in solidarity with Palestine.

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He hasn’t, instead publishing an open letter with other competitors expressing belief in “the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections”.

Olly Alexander attending the Brit Awards 2024 at the O2 Arena, London.Olly Alexander attending the Brit Awards 2024 at the O2 Arena, London.
Olly Alexander attending the Brit Awards 2024 at the O2 Arena, London.

This is, quite obviously, utter, utter tosh. Singing in a big show isn’t going to encourage Israel’s Government to stop bombing, it won’t stop the homes of Palestinians being reduced to rubble.

We are dealing with a Government that has been accused of blocking aid trucks into Gaza.

Maybe I’m misjudging Netanyahu’s passion for camp pop music and colourful outfits, but I don’t think Alexander’s singing will make a difference.

Understandably, Alexander’s statement has been widely criticised, with the former Years & Years star accused of not caring about what UN expert Francesca Albanese said there were reasonable grounds to believe was genocide.

This is also, absolute rubbish. Alexander is not the enemy, just a slightly deluded performer who wants to have his cake and eat it. His actions don’t make him complicit, they don’t mean he doesn’t care, it just shows he isn’t taking the strongest stance possible.

But then, even if he did, it would make no difference. A British boycott of Eurovision doesn’t stop Israel performing, neither does it force a rethink in the Israeli Government. There is a reasonable argument it’s the right thing to do, but not doing so doesn’t make him the enemy. He’s not the cause of this horror, nor, crucially, the organiser of Eurovision.

It is not Alexander that invited Israel to the competition, despite the conflict, and even if he doesn’t go far enough, it’s not like he hasn’t spoken out for Palestine before. Just last year, he was being attacked by the right for signing a letter accusing Israel of wanting to "ethnically cleanse the land". The issue appears to be now, that support has come into conflict with his career.

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You can believe his attending is a compromise of his morals, but the anger towards him is misplaced. The reality is, the world is watching a horrible and terrifying crisis unfurl in real time, and in the face of such horror, seek to find hope wherever we can.

I, and so many of us feel utterly helpless, so demand absolutely everything from those with a platform or power, hoping they can help bring an end to the bloodshed.

I’m disappointed in Alexander’s decision, but as big as Eurovision is, it’s foolish to think his actions could in any way make a difference.