'Eden was amazing... But there are people who hate us'

Israeli fans pan Eurovision juries’ ‘political’ snub, say it denied them victory

In Tel Aviv, song contest enthusiasts laud huge support from televote; contestant Eden Golan says ‘very moving’ to see how public voted

People watch the final results of the 68th Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2024 at a bar in Tel Aviv on May 12, 2024. (Sharon Aronowicz/AFPTV/AFP)

Music fans who gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to watch the Eurovision contest decried juries’ snubs of Israel as “obviously political.”

Israel, represented by Eden Golan singing “Hurricane,” received the second-highest tally in the public vote, but came in only 12th in the jury vote, which led to its overall fifth-place finish.

The mood was electric at the packed Layla bar in Tel Aviv as the show got underway, with the crowd going wild when Golan appeared on screen.

Arriving with long fuchsia-streaked hair and matching nails, Golan performed her song wearing a white chiffon gown billowing in the artificial wind and smoke filling the stage.

As she performed, many at Layla, which bills itself “the best gay bar in Tel Aviv,” voiced hope that she would win.

That would send the message that “maybe we are not hated so much, and that the music really won,” said Tal Bendersky, 23, draped in an Israeli flag.

But as votes started ticking in, and it became clear that few of the juries representing the 37 countries with voting rights were offering Golan even a handful of votes, spirits fell.

Fans went from jumping around and waving Israeli flags to sitting downcast, some with their heads in their hands.

Eden Golan of Israel performs the song Hurricane during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

While the country juries largely snubbed Israel, a separate and equally important vote by the public provided Israel with a massive boost, catapulting it to a respectable fifth place in the end.

Israel got 323 points in the public televote, trailing only Croatia, which received 337 and wound up in second place overall.

Speaking to the media after the event, Golan was asked whether she too felt that the jury vote had cost her victory.

Golan, who has gained plaudits for her media savviness amid furor over Israel’s participation, gave an ambiguous shrug and said, “Anything is possible.”

“It is not something that I can control,” she said of  the jury vote. “I still think we reached an amazing place. What is important is the audience, which really shows everything. How much love we received and how much people love music. That is what matters.”

As for her showing in the public vote, Golan said it was “amazing.”

“It just proves the fact that music is stronger than anything else and that love is so powerful, and spreading love, it brings it back to you.”

She said it was “very moving” that apparently so many non-Jews also voted for her.

People watch the final of the 68th Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2024 at a bar in Tel Aviv on May 11, 2024. (GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

Standing alongside her, Yoav Tzafir, who led the Israeli delegation to the contest, said, “They keep telling us that Eurovision is a non-political place, it’s music. We’ve all seen the difference between the people and politics. We’ve all seen how the judges vote and how the audience votes.”

‘People who hate us’

“This is clearly political,” said Guy, a 20-year-old who declined to give his last name since he did not want his family to know he was at a gay bar.

“Eden was amazing… But there are people who hate us. They don’t see the whole picture,” he told AFP.

“We didn’t get much from the countries. That’s obviously a political thing,” Layla manager Tal Shur agreed.

“No one wants to show that they support us.”

In the days before the glitzy contest, Israel had risen to being one of the bookmakers’ favorites, alongside Croatia and Switzerland, which ended up stealing the show.

But a win for Israel was always a long shot, given the fierce controversy that has surrounded its participation in this year’s edition of the competition amid its ongoing war on the Palestinian terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

People watch the final of the 68th Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2024 at a bar in Tel Aviv on May 12, 2024. (GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

The war started with Hamas’s massive cross-border October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Terrorists also seized 252 hostages of all ages who and took them as captives to Gaza.

Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas, topple its regime in Gaza, and free the hostages of whom 128 remain in captivity, some believed no longer alive.

Golan’s song “Hurricane” is an adaptation of an earlier version named “October Rain,” which she modified after organizers deemed it too political because of its apparent allusions to the Hamas attack.


Before Saturday’s competition began, police in the host city Malmo said at least 5,000 people were demonstrating against Golan in the streets outside the venue.

Thousands of musicians around the world had also called for Israel to be excluded, a demand rejected by the European Broadcasting Union that organizes the event.

When the public vote came in, the fans in Tel Aviv went wild again.

“It was amazing,” Shur said, hailing Golan’s performance as “perfect.”

“It was nice to see how people got emotional when she came on stage… She did something to us.”

“When Israel was given super-high points, I was feeling very happy because it’s (about) music,” not politics, said Nelly Bernardi, 41.

However, she told AFP she found the first part of the voting “shameful.”

“The (jury) points were given in a political way… It was quite obvious.”

Most Popular
read more: