Israel Does a 180, Will Change Eurovision Song Lyrics

Leading submission to international contest appeared to reference Hamas attack
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2024 12:00 AM CST
Israel Drops Defiant Stance, Will Change Eurovision Lyrics
Israeli military vehicles, seen from southern Israel, operate near the Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Contestants in the Eurovision Song Contest can be disqualified if their songs are not politically neutral—and because of that rule, Israel will see to it that the lyrics to its top submission possibility are amended. The leading song, "October Rain" by Eden Golan, seems to reference Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, Reuters reports, with lyrics that could refer to people who took shelter as Hamas attacked a music festival and other sites in Israel: "There's no air left to breathe" is one; another, "They were all good children, each one of them." Multiple references to "flowers" could be symbolic of war fatalities, per the BBC.

While Israel's public broadcaster, Kan (which is responsible for choosing the submission), originally vowed not to change the lyrics, it now says it will after Israel's president called for adjustments to be made to ensure Israel can enter the contest. The second-leading possibility, "Dance Forever," has also been asked by Kan to "readapt the [lyrics], while preserving their artistic freedom." The contest is organized by the European Broadcasting Union and features submissions from "countries from across Europe and beyond," per a description. Contestants perform their songs at an internationally televised competition, held this year in May. (Russia put a Ukrainian Eurovision winner on its wanted list.)

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