Eurovision star demands unauthorised video with Israel's Eden Golan is deleted

Finland's 2023 entrant Käärijä asked for the dancing clip with Golan to be removed.

09 May 2024, Sweden, Malmö: Eden Golan from Israel performs
Israeli Eden Golan has qualified for the Eurovision Song Contest final. (Getty)

Israel's Eurovision entrant Eden Golan has been at the centre of controversy at this year's competition in Malmo, Sweden.

And, on Thursday, a fellow Eurovision star who was filmed dancing with Golan in behind-the-scenes footage demanded the video posted to social media was deleted after an online backlash.

The inclusion of Golan, 20, in this year’s competition in Sweden has led to demonstrations from pro-Palestinian protesters who are unhappy Israel has been allowed to compete amid the conflict in Gaza.

Further protests are expected on Saturday, the day of The Eurovision Song Contest, after Golan qualified with her song Hurricane.

Read more: Eurovision fan describes ‘tense, uncomfortable’ atmosphere when Israel took to stage

On Thursday, Finland's 2023 runner-up Käärijä, who had been invited to perform during this year's semi-final, asked for a video showing the pair briefly dancing together to be taken down after he was criticised online.

Käärijä, whose real name is Jere Mikael Pöyhönen, wrote on Instagram that it had been posted "without my permission" and added that it was not "a political statement or an endorsement of any kind."

Käärijä's Instagram post. (Instagram)
Käärijä's Instagram post. (Instagram)

Käärijä wrote: “I happened to meet the Israel Eurovision representative today, and a video was filmed of us. It was then posted on social media without my permission.

"Despite my requests for its removal, it has not been taken down. I would like to clarify and emphasise that the video is not a political statement or an endorsement of any kind.”

The original video appears to have been original posted on Golan's TikTok account before being stitched by other users and reshared. It has subsequently been deleted.

Yahoo News has been unable to confirm who posted the video and why it was removed, but a spokesperson for Israeli broadcaster Kan told The Times of Israel that the video was removed from Golan and its social media after the request.

Finland entrant Kaarija during the opening of the grand final for the Eurovision Song Contest final at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. Picture date: Saturday May 13, 2023. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Käärijä during the Eurovision Song Contest final last year. (Getty)

The backlash has been criticised by Israeli author Hen Mazzig, who wrote on X: "20 years-old Israeli singer, Eden Golan, was dancing with Finish singer Käärijä today, the video got thousands of hateful comments to the point that the Finish singer had to apologize for being seen with this Israeli girl.

"Can you think of any other country which an artist will have to apologize for being seen with another artist from that nation?"

Yahoo News UK has contacted Käärijä for comment.

Israel's 20-year-old Eurovision contestant Eden Golan is pictured during an interview at her house in Tel Aviv, on April 22, 2024. Fierce controversy surrounds her country's participation in the song competition this year as Israel pushes ahead with its assault in Gaza. Eurovision organisers rejected the singer's original entry
Eden Golan is pictured during an interview at her house in Tel Aviv. (Getty)

Golan herself has said the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden will remain “safe for everyone” amid protests against her participating.

On Thursday, the Netherlands' act Joost Klein told Golan to answer a question on whether she was compromising the safety of other contestants at a press conference.

She said: “I think we’re all here for one reason and one reason only and the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) is taking all safety precautions to make this a safe and and united place for everyone and so I think it’s safe for everyone and we wouldn’t be here (if not).”

The Israeli act also said she was “overwhelmed with emotions” and was “super excited to go on stage once more, and share that of my love with everyone”.

Golan, whose song Hurricane was reworked from a previous track called October Rain, which was thought to reference the Hamas attacks on Israel, triumphed in the semi-final on Thursday evening in Malmo Arena.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated her and said he was “proud” of the young star.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) attends a rally in Malmo, Sweden, in protest against Israel's participation in the 68th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) on May 9, 2024. (Photo by Johan NILSSON / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by JOHAN NILSSON/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) attends a rally in Malmo. (Getty)

An estimated crowd of 10,000 to 12,000 “very peaceful” pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Malmo on Thursday in protest of Israel’s inclusion in the event - among them was Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Swedish Police said it had approved two demonstrations – both pro-Palestinian – for Saturday when the UK’s Olly Alexander competes in the final alongside acts including Ireland’s Bambie Thug and Golan.

Alexander and Bambie, along with other Eurovision artists, released a joint statement in March backing “an immediate and lasting ceasefire” in Gaza but refusing to boycott the event.

The EBU, which operates Eurovision, has taken a strong stance, as in previous years, against political messages at Eurovision and flags and symbols from non-competing countries.

Despite the position, Tuesday’s first semi-final saw former Swedish contestant and opening act Eric Saade wear a keffiyeh pattern material, commonly used by people who want to show they are pro-Palestinian, on his arm.

The EBU said the body “regrets” the moment, while Saade said it was a “way of showing a part of my origin” and was a gift as a child from his father, who is of Palestinian origin.