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Israel in Eurovision final despite criticism

Israel qualified for the Saturday final of the Eurovision song à Malmö, in Sweden, where thousands of people demonstrated against his participation à this competition due to the war à Gaza.

Eden Golan, 20, won her ticket Thursday evening with the song “Hurricane”, the 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,” said the Israeli. “It is truly an honor to be here, on stage, to perform and show our voice, to present ourselves with pride.”

Israel has participated since 1973 in Eurovision, which he won for the fourth time in 2018.

Israel in Eurovision final despite criticism

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 Oddschecker.com.

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 the Eurovision, but you are successfully confronting a horrible wave of anti-Semitism,” he told her in a video message.

– Increased security –

Nearly 12,000 people, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, demonstrated Thursday in Malmö (south) against Israel's participation.

Israel in Eurovision final despite criticism

Protest against Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest on May 9, 2024 in Malmö, Sweden © TT NEWS AGENCY – Ida Marie Odgaard

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

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

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

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

In the enclosure, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which oversees the competition, has as as usual prohibits 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 the flags Palestinians 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 the Swedish public television SVT and by the EBU, which had 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.

Israel in Eurovision final despite criticism

Israeli singer Eden Golan performs the song “Hurricane” during the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö on May 9, 2024 in Sweden. © Ritzau Scanpix – Ida Marie Odgaard

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

“He “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 lasting ceasefire .

Representatives of certain 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 directed against Eurovision”, however assured a police spokesperson.

Israel in Eurovision final despite criticism

A pro-Palestinian protester in Malmö, Sweden, May 9, 2024 © TT NEWS AGENCY – Andreas HILLERGREN

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 “, estimates professor of the history of ideas Andreas Önnerfors, specialist in Eurovision.

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

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”, said 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.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116