Back in Israel, Eurovision winner glad ‘we gave a reason for country to rejoice’
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Free festive concert set for Tel Aviv Monday evening

Back in Israel, Eurovision winner glad ‘we gave a reason for country to rejoice’

Netta Barzilai returns from Lisbon hoarse, exhausted, and triumphant after winning international song contest

  • Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
    Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
  • Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
    Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
  • Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
    Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
  • Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)
    Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai seen as she arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 14, 2018. (Flash90)

Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest winner Netta Barzilai touched down in Israel early Monday morning and told reporters she was delighted to have given the country a reason to rejoice.

“We are all hoarse, we’ve been celebrating all night and we haven’t really slept,” she said as she disembarked at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international competition with the women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”

“This is a great moment for me, for us as a delegation, and for us as a country that has so few reasons to rejoice at the moment,” she said. “It makes me happy to know that we have given such a reason to rejoice.”

Israel’s Netta Barzilai celebrates after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Barzilai landed as the country was ending its celebrations of Jerusalem Day, marking the anniversary of Israel taking control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War, and a few hours before the official opening ceremony of the United States embassy in Jerusalem, seen as a great diplomatic achievement for the country.

“Thought creates the reality,” Barzilai said, thanking her team who worked with her for the past half year, “and that is what I learned from this journey.”

Barzilai’s win means Israel will host next year’s Eurovision competition — probably in Jerusalem — an event expected to bring thousands of fans and worldwide exposure to the Jewish state.

“I want to say a lot of good luck to the State of Israel that Eurovision will be here next year,” she said. “It’s such a pleasure that such an event will take place here.”

Barzilai performed her song on the plane back to Israel for the rest of the passengers, who all celebrated her win with her.

With three backing singers and her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink-dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves.

She will perform a victory concert in Tel Aviv’s iconic Rabin Square on Monday night for her many fans, thousands of whom celebrated into the small hours of Sunday morning in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as the results of the competition were announced.

The free concert in the heart of Tel Aviv will also feature previous Israeli Eurovision representatives, including Shiri Maimon, Orna and Moshe Datz, Gali Atari and Dana International, Israel’s most recent winner.

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