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Israel’s Eurovision contestant accuses media of antisemitism

Michael Ben David says journalists refused to interview him; however, press conferences during the finals are held only for qualifying contestants — which he was not

Singer Michael Ben David performs on behalf of Israel during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 12, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. (Marco Bertorello / AFP)
Singer Michael Ben David performs on behalf of Israel during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 12, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. (Marco Bertorello / AFP)

Israeli singer Michael Ben David, who represented Israel in the 2022 Eurovision song contest in Turin, Italy, complained Tuesday of alleged antisemitism he experienced while competing.

Ben David claimed at a press conference, without providing details, that when he approached the interview stage, international media refused to interview him because he was Israeli.

“They told me they didn’t want me. This little bit of antisemitism stays with you,” he said.

Ben David held two press conferences in Turin a few days apart during rehearsals, about two weeks before the contest.

But after the semifinals, press conferences are held only for those who made it through. Ben David did not qualify for the finals.

The singer also claimed, without evidence, that cameramen avoided broadcasting the Israeli flag. “I saw a lot of Israeli flags in the audience but no flag was pictured. I say this — any opportunity that I have to raise an Israeli flag, I will raise it.”

Contestant Michael Ben David (second from left) kisses host Laura Pausini. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Following his performance, Ben David was invited into the TV frame by the hosts of the competition and used the opportunity to proudly display the flag, and even gave one of the hosts a kiss.

Though he was invited by the hosts, the exchange was not viewed positively on social media.

Despite his allegation of antisemitism, Ben David said he enjoyed the contest. “In my life, I never thought that I would go through such an amazing and powerful experience,” he said. “I’m proud to say I had a good experience, I enjoyed it, and I regret nothing.”

Israel has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times since it began taking part in 1973: first in 1978 with “A-Ba-Ni-Bi,” then a year later with “Hallelujah,” again in 1998 with “Diva” and most recently in 2018 with “Toy.” The 2020 competition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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