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Israel’s Eurovision Entry “Struggling To Stick To Contest Rules While Keeping Israelis Happy”

Israel’s Eurovision team have struggled to create a non-political song against the background of strong international feeling over the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.

The Israeli entry for this year’s contest came under intense scrutiny when the lyrics of its original offering October Rain were analysed, and considered too political for the rules set by the determinedly apolitical Contest’s organisers.

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Now performer Eden Golan has adapted the song with new lyrics and new title, Hurricane, but The Times of London reports that her team has been challenged in finding the middle way between adhering to Contest rules and keeping the Israeli public happy.

They quote one anonymous team insider saying: “We’ve tried our best to bring a neutral song. We have pressure from the [Israeli] public to write something that speaks the truth. But the world and the EBU want us not to speak up.”

The source points out that any music can be political if you look for it: “Read Baby Shark’s lyrics, ‘hunt, hunt, hunt’, if you want to find relation to any war — you can find it in any song.”

And they add that it’s difficult to produce music that isn’t influenced by the atrocities” – referring to the Hamas invasion of October 7 – “where friends were slaughtered, some in a rave and some in their homes.” The lyrics to the original entry, October Rain, included: “Those that write history, stand with me… Hours and hours and flowers; life is no game for the cowards.”

Israel has won the Song Contest on four occasions in its 60-year history, but there has always been debate about the country’s inclusion. This year has seen that amplified, with many international critics – including two Belgian ministers as recently as Friday – saying Israel shouldn’t be there, while the situation in Gaza continues. In the UK alone, this year’s entry, singer Olly Alexander, was criticised for signing a petition accusing Israel of war crimes and saying its bombardment of Gaza must cease. On the other hand, Israel-supporting celebrities including Oscar winner Helen Mirren have signed a public letter urging that Israel be allowed to take part.

The Contest will take place in May in Malmo, Swden, a city with a heavy Muslim population, and The Times reports that police are braced for protests and disruptions to the event. They quote another member of Golan’s team saying, “I just want our representative to get back home safely after this event.”

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