I may be one of the few people on earth who doesn’t get into the Eurovision song contest. It’s a worldwide phenomenon in which singer/songwriter hopefuls from all over the world compete in front of a live, televised audience to become the show’s championed winner. It’s become such a massive show over the years that the biggest stars in music have stopped by the show for a guest performance – Madonna being one of the top names on the show’s recent billing.
Unfortunately, show has now been cast into a dark light by association with Netta Barzilai, the 2018 Eurovision international song contest’s winner.
Last week, Barzilai found herself in the middle of a firestorm. As reported by the Jewish Journal, the singer, who has a large LGBTQ fanbase, posted an image on Instagram of “a music note being strangled by a noose to illustrate how culture is dying in Israel because of coronavirus restrictions.” The prominent noose image was in all white against a solid black background – similar to the now-popular, solid black profile images that have come to symbolize solidarity with the Black Lives Matter(BLM) movement.
According to the Jewish Journal,
“The Israeli singer removed the image from her Instagram post the following day, however, and left a message in its place that said, “a lot of people were triggered and offended by the logo, and I obviously didn’t want that.”
Here is Barzilai’s origina post:
Barzilai posted that image on Monday night and removed it on Tuesday morning after receiving backlash, but making matters worse, the hugely successful gay circuit party production team ForeverTeleviv, reshared the troubling image on their widely-followed Instagram site @forevertlv.
By posting the noose image, they claim to have been joining Barzilai’s sentiment that Israel’s government oppresses its citizens by closing event halls and shutting down large gatherings in the age of COVID-19. Since Forevertlv’s primary business is throwing large circuit parties, it is no surprise they would side with Barzilai. However, a white noose against a black background in the age of global rebellion against the plague racial injustice endured by black people is either a blatant insult or gross corporate negligence.
Many gay men of all ethnicities who follow forevertlv’s Instagram account quickly denounced the incendiary post. The thread was ripe with calls of racism and gay black men, in particular, did not hold back.
When called out for posting the noose image, Forevertlv claimed to be merely rallying against its government’s “attack on culture” and joining Barzilai’s call on the government to provide financial aid to the nightlife and circuit party industries similar to assistance provided to other businesses.
After many hours, the famed nightlife brand removed the noose image, and the following post messaged was shared from their account,
Last night we uploaded a post using an image of a musical note connected to a noose. It was intended to be a heartfelt statement sympathizing with the many severe restrictions suffocating the music and entertainment industry in Israel following a total lack of government financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. It was not our own design, and we only uploaded this image in support of this difficult situation.
We were completely oblivious to the American history of this symbol, it’s horrifying meaning and it’s triggering effects.
Forever Tel Aviv loves accepts and supports every one of all skin tones, genders, nations, and religions and is strictly against any form of discrimination, racism, or violence. We are deeply sorry for this shameful misunderstanding and had absolutely no intention of displaying such hateful propaganda. This was an honest mistake, and we sincerely apologize for this terribly offensive and unfortunate blunder.”
Basically, they threw Barzilai under the bus and claimed to be oblivious to the symbolism of the noose as it pertains to African Americans and slavery. What I find peculiar about that explanation is, by comparison, I would surmise that every African American is aware of the horrors associated with the swastika as it pertains to Jewish people, and the African holocaust lasted centuries longer than World War II. As it pertains to world view knowledge and in consideration of all the direct, decades-long ties between Israel and The United States, it seems a bit far-fetched that they could be so oblivious.
Through the sea of scornful backlash, some men were willing to give the bran a stern rebuke but with diplomacy and benefit of the doubt, such as Instagram user @upward.redeemer, who replied,
“I hear your words, I just can’t believe that whomever posted was that tone-deaf and thoughtless. You guys are a world-class organization, and it is absolutely triggering to see something like this. Mistake or not, this lies on your lapel. Hopefully, this honest mistake (that takes several steps to create/upload/post) doesn’t happen again. Many of us brown and black people, find ourselves at breaking points around each corner and it sucks that one of our outlets, that celebrates us, let’s this slip, not being cognizant of it, until hours later. Do better, you guys deserve better.”
Marketing and publicity guru, Shaun Saunders of Graffiti PR, weighed in from a different perspective of economic recourse in suggesting how gay, black men should respond to Forevertlv’s noose debacle,
“…tell 10 black friends, who would consider traveling to this event, to spend their collective dollars and energy in Madrid. That’s where pride is off the hook. Speak with dollars and intent. I wouldn’t waste a good prayer or a cocktail on people who don’t see it for us. And we’re on brand, successful and hot. Let us not forget that Obama was called all kinds of beastly names by people in this part of the World.”
As for Barzilai, she removed her noose post the next day after getting dragged on social media. She then offered a rather weak, dismissive, non-apology. For me, that indicated she was well aware of the history behind the image, to begin with, yet she shared but chose to post it anyway,
“….a lot of people were triggered and offended by the logo, and I obviously didn’t want that.“
Really, girl? That’s it? Really? You may be the 2018 Eurovision Song contest winner, but in 2020 honey, you are the Champion of hitting sour notes when it comes to personal responsibility.
*We reached out to @Forevertlv for further comment are are awaiting a response.
Read more about Barzilai’s noose nonsense at The Jewish Journal