Eurovision | Israel in final despite criticism

(Malmö) Israel qualified for Saturday’s Eurovision final in Malmö, Sweden, where thousands of people demonstrated against its participation in the competition due to the war in Gaza.

Eden Golan, 20, won her ticket Thursday evening with the song Hurricanethe initial version of which had to be modified because it alluded to the attack by the Islamist group Hamas which bloodied Israel on October 7.

Israel thus joins the group of 26 countries which will compete on Saturday to succeed Sweden as winner of this competition followed in 2023 by 162 million viewers.

“I am so grateful to everyone who voted for us and supported us,” the Israeli said. “It’s truly an honor to be here, on stage, to perform and show our voice, to present ourselves with pride.”

Israel has participated in Eurovision since 1973, winning it for the fourth time in 2018.


Eden Golan

On Friday, the country was among the favorites for the final victory behind Croatia and ahead of Switzerland, according to the online betting site comparator

Before the semi-final, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Eden Golan had “already won”.

“Not only are you proudly and admirably participating in Eurovision, but you are successfully confronting a horrible wave of anti-Semitism,” he told her in a video message.

Enhanced security

Nearly 12,000 people, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, demonstrated in Malmö on Thursday against Israel’s participation.

“This year we are completely boycotting,” said Cecilia Brudell, 31. A new rally is planned for Saturday.

Unions at Flemish public television channel VRT briefly interrupted broadcasts on Thursday evening to broadcast a message of support for the Palestinians.

“This is a union action. We condemn the human rights violations by the State of Israel. Furthermore, the State of Israel is destroying press freedom. This is why we are interrupting the broadcast for a moment. #CeaseFireNow #StopGenocideNow,” could be read on the screen in Dutch, against a black background.

Hurricane was, however, performed without a hitch or interruption by Eden Golan in front of the 9,000 spectators at the Malmö Arena.


Inside, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which oversees the competition, has as usual banned any flag other than those of the participants and any banner with a political message.

Security has also been reinforced both in the room and in the rest of the city, where the largest community of Palestinian origin in Sweden lives and where Palestinian flags rub shoulders with brightly colored pennants.

“The EBU is taking all the necessary precautions to make this place a safe and united place for all,” said Eden Golan after the semi-final, who was the subject of threats on social networks.

The neutrality of the tele-hook was shaken up on Tuesday during the first semi-final by the Swedish singer Eric Saade, who wore a Palestinian keffiyeh around his arm.

A gesture regretted by Swedish public television SVT and by the EBU, which banned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from speaking during the competition last year.

Calls for boycott

This year, the conflict in Ukraine has been overshadowed by the war in Gaza, triggered on October 7 by Hamas’ bloody attack on Israel which left more than 1,170 dead, according to an AFP report based on official data. Israelis.

In response, the Israeli army launched an offensive in Gaza, which has killed 34,904 people so far, according to the Hamas health ministry.

“There must be protests, people must express their opinions, people must boycott,” said Magnus Børmark, candidate for Norway with his group Gåte, who, like eight other participants, called for a ceasefire. lasting fire.

Representatives of some countries had considered boycotting the competition, but ultimately did not follow through.

100,000 visitors expected

Police reinforcements came from all over Sweden, but also from Denmark and Norway to secure the competition.

“There is no threat against Eurovision,” however assured a police spokesperson.


For fans – the city expects up to 100,000 visitors on Saturday – “it’s what’s on stage that’s important: the contributions, the artists and the music, and not politics,” believes the history professor. ideas Andreas Önnerfors, Eurovision specialist.

Almost seventy years old, this competition is “a demonstration of European tolerance that is not found in other forms or in other places”, he underlines.

Within the Jewish community of Malmö, some plan to leave the city for the weekend.

“With Eurovision, there is a sort of intensification. The feeling of insecurity increased after October 7, many Jews are worried,” explained a spokesperson, Fredrik Sieradzki.

But according to him, the numerous pro-Palestinian demonstrations did not give rise to calls targeting the city’s Jews.


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