Facing protests, Israel’s Eurovision contestant Eden Golan aims to ‘unite by music’

Singer says she will concentrate on doing her best at song contest in Sweden’s Malmo, and won’t focus on the demonstrations against her participation

Israel's Eden Golan -- and her backup dancers -- rehearsing her song 'Hurricane' ahead of the Eurovision in Malmo, Sweden, on April 30, 2024. (Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU)
Israel's Eden Golan -- and her backup dancers -- rehearsing her song 'Hurricane' ahead of the Eurovision in Malmo, Sweden, on April 30, 2024. (Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU)

MALMO, Sweden – Eden Golan, Israel’s contender in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, hopes to unite people through her music when she performs this week in Malmo, Sweden, she said in an interview.

The 68th version of the world’s biggest song contest takes place amid protests in many countries against Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip triggered by the Palestinian terror group Hamas’s devastating October 7 attack on Israel.

Golan, 20, is competing with the song “Hurricane” which initially went under the name “October Rain.”

“I come here to show my voice, to share my love, my gift from God and to hopefully make people feel something and leave a mark in their souls and to unite by music,” Golan told Reuters on Monday.

Israel tweaked the song after the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, took issue with verses from the original submission, which appeared to reference the October 7 attack during which Hamas-led terrorists killed 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians.

Anti-Israel activists rallied for months to have Israel barred from the 2024 contest, a move the EBU rejected. Israel’s participation in this year’s contest has been met with protests over the war, and Malmo is bracing for possible unrest during the week although police have said there have been no concrete threats against the event. Thousands are expected to attend anti-Israel rallies in Malmo throughout the contest period.

Asked how she feels about the possibility of protests in Malmo, Golan said:

“It’s up to the people what to do. They have the right to speak their voice, but I’m focusing on my part which is giving the best performance, and on the good, on the good vibes, the good people.”

The competition is hugely popular in Israel, which has won it four times. Bookmakers rank this year’s entry in the top 10.

“It’s a super important moment for us, especially this year,” Golan said. “I feel honored to have the opportunity to be the voice of my country.”

Golan is accompanied in Malmo by a heavy security presence, and is skipping most events throughout the week aside from the live shows and rehearsals.

Malmo Police told The Times of Israel that no demonstrations will be allowed in the area surrounding the Eurovision arena.

Last week, Israel raised further its own travel warning to the southern Swedish city, citing “a well-founded fear” that terrorists would target Israelis attending the competition. Golan and the rest of the Israeli delegation sat out the opening “turquoise carpet” event on Sunday evening, instead holding a small ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Israeli singer will not be performing until the second semifinal on Thursday, and the final takes place on Saturday.

Amy Spiro contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: