Israel will compete at Eurovision after changing lyrics to its controversial song

Israel will compete at Eurovision after changing lyrics to its controversial song
Israel will compete at Eurovision after changing lyrics to its controversial song Copyright Eurovision - X
By David Mouriquand
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Organisers have confirmed that Israel will be allowed to compete at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 after changing the lyrics to its song ‘October Rain’ - now titled ‘Hurricane’.

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Israel will be allowed to compete at this year’s Eurovision after changing the lyrics to its song, organisers have confirmed. 20-year-old Russian-Israeli singer Eden Golan will represent the country this May.

Her original song, ‘ October Rain ’, made reference to the Hamas attacks of 7 October and had been barred for breaking rules on political neutrality. Israel's public broadcaster agreed to amend the song, now titled ‘Hurricane’, which will be unveiled this weekend.

In a statement, The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) - which organises the contest - said: "The EBU can confirm that the official submission from its Israeli Member Kan has been deemed eligible to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest in May.”

"The Contest's Reference Group, its governing board, made the decision to accept the song 'Hurricane' for the upcoming competition after careful scrutiny of the lyrics. It was agreed that 'Hurricane' met the necessary criteria for participation in accordance with the rules of the competition."

Israeli broadcaster KAN had previously pledged not to alter the lyrics, but the country's President Isaac Herzog later called for "necessary adjustments" to ensure Israel can take part in the contest.

The original lyrics of ‘October Rain’ included the lines: “There’s no air left to breathe” and "They were all good children, every one of them.” The song also referred to “flowers”, which is often used as military code for war fatalities.

On Wednesday (6 March), Belgium's Culture Minister Benedicte Linard called for Israel to be banned from Eurovision as long as the war in Gaza continues.

"Just like Russia has been excluded from competitions and Eurovision following its invasion of Ukraine, Israel should be excluded until it puts an end to its flagrant violations of international law, which are causing thousands of victims, especially children," she wrote on X.

Linard also told the Belgian parliament that she would ask public broadcaster RTBF, which is organising Belgium’s entry to Eurovision, to voice the concerns to the EBU.

Israel’s inclusion has caused much controversy.

In January, an open letter was issued to the EBU and signed by over 1,000 Swedish artists, calling for Israel to be withdrawn from competing. Other Eurovision countries having called for Israel to be suspended over the war in Gaza include artists in Iceland, Norway and Denmark. In Finland, a petition signed by more than 1,400 music industry professionals accused their national broadcaster Yle of double standards, saying it was among the first to demand the ban on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Elsewhere, the likes of Helen Mirren, Gene Simmons, Sharon Osbourne and Boy George signed an open letter urging Eurovision organisers to allow Israel to compete this year.

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place from 7 to 11 May in the Swedish city of Malmö.

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