Israel threatens to pull out of Eurovision if ‘October rain’ entry is vetoed

by nildacolquhoun7

Eden Golan holding the Israeli flag. KAN

Eurovision

The European Broadcasting Union is scrutinising the lyrics of the song, which reportedly references the victims of the October 7 Hamas attacks.

ISRAEL TODAY WARNED it may withdraw from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest if organisers reject the lyrics from its entry as too political.

Eden Golan and her song “October Rain” were chosen to compete in the annual competition, which is being held in May in Malmo, Sweden.

Reports several days ago suggested that the song, which is mostly in English with some Hebrew words, references the victims of Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel.

That could mean it falls foul of Eurovision rules, which ban political statements.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said only that it was “currently in the process of scrutinising the lyrics” and a final decision had yet to be taken.

“If a song is deemed unacceptable for any reason, broadcasters are then given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, as per the rules of the Contest,” it added.

The prospect of a ban, after the EBU rejected calls for Israel to be barred from competing because of the war in the Gaza Strip, has caused outrage.

Israel’s culture and sports minister, Miki Zohar, called the prospect “scandalous”.

Golan’s song was “moving”, he wrote on social media, and “expresses the feelings of the people and the country these days, and is not political”.

Hamas’s attack on October 7 left some 1,160 people dead, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Some 250 hostages were also taken, with 130 still held in Gaza, although about 30 are believed to be dead, Israeli officials said.

Israel’s military response has killed 29,692 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) said on Thursday that it was “in dialogue” with the EBU about the country’s Eurovision entry.

“It should be noted that, as far as the Israel Broadcasting Corporation is concerned, there is no intention to replace the song,” it wrote.

“Meaning, if it is not approved by the European Broadcasting Union, Israel will not be able to participate in the competition.”

Israel made its first appearance at Eurovision in 1973 and has won the competition four times, most notably with transgender singer Dana International in 1998.

But its participation and hosting of the event have regularly run into controversy.

In 2019, Icelandic band Hatari, who previously challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Nordic folk wrestling match, made pro-Palestinian statements during the vote-count in Tel Aviv.

Organisers also gave pop queen Madonna a ticking off after her dancers flouted political neutrality rules by wearing Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes.

© Agence France-Presse

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