Israeli broadcaster complains to Eurovision organizers, urges end to political displays

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

Israel's contestant Eden Golan performs the song 'Hurricane' during the dress rehearsal for the second semifinal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 8, 2024. (Martin Meissner/AP)
Israel's contestant Eden Golan performs the song 'Hurricane' during the dress rehearsal for the second semifinal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 8, 2024. (Martin Meissner/AP)

The Kan public broadcaster, which organizes Israel’s participation in the Eurovision, says that it has complained to the European Broadcasting Union and the Swedish public broadcaster about the boos heard during Eden Golan’s dress rehearsal performance yesterday, as well as the pro-Palestinian messages included in the first semifinal on Tuesday night.

Kan “requested that EBU and SVT work to prevent a repeat of instances like this, and demanded that they allow Israel to compete fairly in tonight’s semifinal.”

At yesterday’s semifinal dress rehearsal, loud boos were heard in the audience when Golan took the stage and when she switched into Hebrew for the final lines of her song, “Hurricane,” though they were also accompanied by cheers for the Israeli contestant. Anti-Israel activists have been rallying unsuccessfully for months to have the Jewish state banned from the competition.

In the first semifinal, opening act Eric Saade wore a keffiyeh around his wrist as a form of protest, which was later condemned by the EBU; Irish entry Bambie Thug says they were forced by the EBU to remove pro-Palestinian writing from their face and leg; and Australian musician Fred Leone says he wore body paint resembling a watermelon as an act of solidarity with the Palestinians. Political symbols are barred from the contest.

The second semifinal will begin at 9 p.m. Swedish time (10 p.m. Israel time) this evening. Voters in non-Eurovision participating countries can already cast their votes at www.esc.vote.

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