PM, mayor vow to host Eurovision in Jerusalem next year
Haredim declare capital off-limits
May 12, 1998
Despite opposition to the idea from some ultra-Orthodox politicians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared yesterday that next year's Eurovision song contest will be held in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert (Likud) yesterday strongly criticized his deputy, Haim Miller (United Torah Judaism), for stating the Eurovision song contest would not be held in Jerusalem under any circumstances, declaring emphatically "it is up to me."
"Not everything that chatterbox says is worthy of response. I have the final word in the Jerusalem Municipality. There is not, never was and never will be cultural or political censorship in the Jerusalem Municipality, and the song contest will be held here next year," Olmert asserted.
"Jerusalem hosted the Eurovision 20 years ago, and there is no reason in the world why it should not host it again. We will be happy to cooperate on the matter with the Israel Broadcasting Authority," Olmert added.
At Netanyahu's request, his media adviser Shai Bazak telephoned Zvika Pik, composer of the winning song "Diva," and conveyed the prime minister's congratulations to him and to the entire cast.
"They deserve our congratulations. This is definitely an impressive feat," Netanyahu told reporters. Responding to objections voiced by ultra-Orthodox politicians, Netanyahu stressed he supports hosting next year's song contest in Jerusalem and added, "it will take place."
Meanwhile, MK Avraham Poraz (Shinui) suggested yesterday that the Eurovision be held in Tel-Aviv, Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna called for it to be held in Haifa and the director-general of the President's Office, Arieh Shumer, suggested Eilat to host the European song contest.
"Although I know this may look like caving in to the ultra-Orthodox, I suggest the 1999 Eurovision be held not in Jerusalem but in another Israeli city. I believe the best location would be Tel-Aviv, the capital of Israeli secular culture," Poraz said, noting that many countries have in the past hosted the Eurovision in cities other than their capital.
President Ezer Weizman expressed his opinion in the public debate yesterday, saying that he believed the Eurovision song contest should be held in Jerusalem but that he himself would not participate in it.
Doron Shmueli, Director-General of the Jubilee Events Committee, said yesterday that the committee would be willing to participate in financing the Eurovision song contest production. This would require extending the committee's mandate, which is due to expire in February 1999. The next Eurovision is scheduled for May 1999.
Singer Dana International, her backup group and the winning song's writers have been invited to the Knesset today, where they will meet with Tourism Minister Moshe Katsav, who will give them "roving ambassador" certificates, in recognition of their victory in the song contest. They will also meet with the head of the Knesset Education Committee, MK Emanuel Zisman.
by Ha'aretz staff and Itim News Service