The usually popular Marty Whelan found himself on the wrong side of opinion this week when he posted a “little taste from behind the scenes in Tel Aviv”on Wednesday. The broadcaster received almost 400 messages from fans, overwhelmingly expressing disappointment with his presence at this year’s controversial Eurovision event in Israel.
Many declared their fondness for both Marty and the Eurovision, but had deep reservations about watching this year’s competition. One fan said “Sorry Marty. I’m with Mike Murphy on this one”. Murphy has been a well-known support of the Palestinians and a vocal critic of Israel.
A little taste from behind the scenes in Tel Aviv – @RTElyricfm @RTEeurovision @Eurovision @rte #comeonireland 🇮🇪 Stay tuned for so much more 🌝 @Sarah_McTernan @eurovisionn2019 pic.twitter.com/3V6DKLp41g
— Marty Whelan (@martylyricfm) May 13, 2019
Murphy himself has advocated a boycott, suggesting: “Why not step up to the plate and publicly affirm our support for Palestine? We the Irish people, RTÉ and the government, would be seen to support the worldwide BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against the actions of Israel and to take a significant moral leadership role”.
Rory Cowan from Ms Brown’s Boys meanwhile had this response to those questioning his attendance.
— Rory Cowan (@1rorycowan) May 14, 2019
Israel’s Embassy in Ireland is also on the offence. Their social media team have posted a whopping 60, and counting, Eurovision updates since Monday. Activity which underlines that this year is as much about political public relations as it is a harmless song contest.
As far as audience numbers can be gleaned, the Eurovision traditionally dominates Irish social media, however things have been a lot more muted this year, with the event languishing down the bottom half of trending topics.