18 June, 2024
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Israel to change lyrics of Eurovision entry after its president weighs in


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Israel to change lyrics of Eurovision entry after its president weighs in

Submission to contest which included references to the Hamas attack on 7 October revised following request by Israeli president

MEE staff

Eden Golan, Israel’s representative for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, in Neve Ilan, Israel on 6 February 2024 (Reuters)

Israel has agreed to change the lyrics of its potential entry for the Eurovision Song Contest after organisers took issue with apparent references to the war in Gaza

National broadcaster Kan is responsible for choosing the country’s submission for the competition, which takes place in Sweden’s Malmo from 7 to 11 May.

The leading Israeli submission is October Rain, a ballad by solo artist Eden Golan. 

The original lyrics to the song, according to Kan, including lines such as “There’s no air left to breathe” and “They were all good children, each one of them.”

The lyrics are apparent references to the surprise attack by Palestinian fighters on southern Israel on 7 October. 

Kan announced on Sunday that it had asked the writers of October Rain, and the second-placed entry, Dance Forever, to amend lyrics while “preserving their artistic freedom”. 

Following the revisions, Kan will officially submit Israel’s song to the Eurovision committee. 

The song October Rain will be retitled Hurricane, the broadcaster announced. The amended lyrics have not been revealed as of yet. 

Kan had initially said it would not change the lyrics, but agreed to do so after a request by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. 

“The president emphasised that at this time in particular, when those who hate us seek to push aside and boycott the state of Israel from every stage, Israel must sound its voice with pride and its head high and raise its flag in every world forum, especially this year,” Kan said in a statement. 

‘Not political’

Eurovision’s organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), says the contest is a non-political event and contestants can be disqualified contestants for breaching rules. 

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Last month it announced that it was investigating the Israeli submission’s lyrics, but that the process was confidential.

“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,” the EBU said. 

Several musicians – including artists in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland – have called for Israel to be suspended from the contest over its killing of Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October. 

Two years ago, Russia was disqualified from the competition over its invasion of Ukraine. 

The EBU has argued that the situation in Gaza is different to Ukraine, and has resisted calls to remove Israel. 

Israel has competed in Eurovision since 1973, winning the competition on four occasions. 

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