ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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Eurovision 2023

Israel didn’t win Eurovision, but it did win the ‘rest of the world’

Noa Kirel’s ‘Unicorn’ received ‘douze points’ from nonparticipating countries’ audiences – able to vote for the first time – as well as voters in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Cyprus

Amy Spiro

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

Noa Kirel of Israel during the flag ceremony before during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, England, May 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Noa Kirel of Israel during the flag ceremony before during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, England, May 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Israel may have come in third place at the 2023 Eurovision in Liverpool on Saturday night, but it received the clear backing of fans from outside of Europe.

For the first time this year, fans in countries that do not participate in the competition were able to cast their votes. And Israel won the most support from those voting in the “rest of the world,” whose votes were tallied together and entered with the weight of an additional country.

Israel came out on top of the “rest of the world” vote in both the semifinal and grand final rounds, picking up the maximum 12 available points each time. In Saturday night’s finale, those votes went next to Finland (10), then Armenia (8) and Sweden (7).

“It’s a result that is really crazy,” Kirel told Israeli reporters when asked about her success in the “rest of the world” vote on Sunday. “It’s nuts!”

Eurovision organizers did not immediately release the number of people who voted in the “rest of the world” category, nor any data about which countries were most represented. The European Broadcasting Union, which runs the show, did not respond to a request for further details.

While Sweden was the big winner at Saturday’s grand final, it captured the title due to the jury votes, since the popular winner among the audience overall was Finland, which picked up a whopping 376 televote points, compared to Sweden’s 243.

Loreen of Sweden celebrates with the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, England, May 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Israel was ranked fifth place in the televotes — tallied up from those who vote online, via the app, by SMS or phone — with 185 points overall. And while Armenia and Azerbaijan may not agree on most things these days, both countries — the juries and the audience voters — awarded their maximum points to Israel.

Audience voters in Cyprus also gave their 12 points to Israel, while Kirel picked up 10 points each from televoters in San Marino, Moldova and France, as well as eight points from those in the Czech Republic.

Overall, Israel received at least some audience points from 29 of the 36 countries that took part in this year’s contest.

When it came to televoters in Israel — who can’t vote for their own country — they went along with the overall trend, giving 12 points to Finland’s techno-rap extravaganza “Cha Cha Cha,” followed by 10 points to Norway, eight to Ukraine and seven to Italy.

Israel’s jury gave its top marks to Sweden, the overall winner, with 10 points to the fifth-place finisher Norway and eight points to Finland, which came in second place.

Israel’s third place finish out of the 37 countries in the 2023 contest is an impressive result for the Jewish state. It’s the highest result for Israel since its win in 2018 with Netta Barzilai’s “Toy,” and it’s an outcome that was not matched in the years in between that win and Dana International’s 1998 victory.

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