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Israel’s Eurovision entry facing scrutiny by organisers over alleged political references

Israel’s Eurovision entry facing scrutiny by organisers over alleged political references


Key Points
  • Eurovision organisers say they are “scrutinising” the lyrics of Israel’s entry into this year’s contest.
  • Earlier this year, Eurovision’s organisers allowed Israel to compete, despite calls for it to be excluded.
  • Petitions have called for Israel to be kicked out of the event, with comparisons being made to Russia’s 2022 ban.
Eurovision organisers are scrutinising the lyrics of Israel’s entry in the song contest, citing concerns they may be too political.
The song, titled October Rain, is set to be performed by female soloist Eden Golan, who won the singing competition show HaKochav HaBa and was subsequently chosen to represent Israel.

The lyrics of the entry, for the contest in Malmö, Sweden, were first leaked to the media.

According to Israeli newspaper Hayom, the song contains lines such as: “Everything is black and white”, “Who told you boys don’t cry?” and “Life is not a game for the cowards”. The song also includes the word “flowers” which is a term used in the Israeli army for soldiers killed in battle.
It is also reported that the last three lines of the song, which Golan plans to sing in Hebrew, are “There’s no air left to breathe”, “No place, no me from day to day”, and “They were all good children, each one of them”.

Israel’s national broadcaster, Kan, confirmed to the Reuters news agency that the leaked lyrics were accurate and said it was “in dialogue” with Eurovision organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) regarding the issue.

The EBU describes the song contest as a non-political event.
A Eurovision spokesperson told Israeli news outlet Ynet: “The EBU is currently in the process of scrutinising the lyrics, a process which is confidential between the EBU and the broadcaster until a final decision has been taken.”
“All broadcasters have until 11 March to formally submit their entries. 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.”

Israel’s culture and sports minister, Miki Zohar, posted on his X account: “Israel’s song, which will be performed by Eden Golan, is a moving song, which expresses the feelings of the people and the country these days, and is not political.”

A group of protesters, some with Palestinian flags, one with a megaphone.

Protesters in Stockholm, Sweden in February called for Israel to be excluded from the Eurovision Song Contest. Source: AAP / Frederik Persson/EPA

Have any entries been banned from Eurovision in the past?

In 2009, Georgia’s entry We Don’t Wanna Put In was disqualified over political connotations in its lyrics — particularly its title, which referenced Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Belarus’ entry in 2021, titled I’ll Teach You, was deemed ineligible by the EBU for reportedly containing homophobic language and political references.

However, Ukraine’s 2016 entry, the song 1944, which depicted the forced deportation of Crimean Tatars under Joseph Stalin and opened with the lyrics “When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say, ‘We’re not guilty,'” was allowed.

Russia was barred from participating in Eurovision the day after it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 25 February 2022. In that case, the EBU said that including a Russian entry in that year’s contest “would bring the competition into disrepute”.
EBU let Israel compete in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest despite over the Gaza war.

Petitions calling for Israel’s exclusion from the event, citing similarities to Russia’s 2022 ban, have been circulating since the decision.


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