Israel Granted Eurovision 2024 Entry After Lyric Change

Music

Israel Granted Eurovision 2024 Entry After Lyric Change

Numerous artists from competing nations have called for Israel to be banned for breaching international law in Palestine

Eurovision Song Contest 2024  Mälmo

Photo by LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Israel will be allowed to compete at the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest after changing the lyrics to its entry song, organizers announced today. The song contest has faced fierce opposition from artists and diplomats in several competing nations, who contend that, like Russia in 2022, Israel should be banned for breaking international law in its ongoing assault of Palestine.

The Israeli entrant, Eden Golan, had originally titled her submission “October Rain,” an apparent reference to the Hamas attacks of October 7. The song included lyrics, in English, such as, “They were all good children, every one of them,” and, “Life is not a game for the cowards.” Retitled “Hurricane,” the song now meets “the necessary criteria for participation in accordance with the rules of the competition,” according to a statement by the European Broadcasting Union. “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.”

In January, artists and politicians from Sweden, Finland, and Iceland signed open letters calling for Eurovision to bar Israel; the Swedish letter, signed by Robyn and Fever Ray, among others, argued that Israel’s inclusion “trivializes violations of international law and makes the suffering of the victims invisible.” The Finnish and Swedish letter noted that “a country that commits war crimes and continues a military occupation” should not be allowed “to polish its image in the name of music.”

On Wednesday, in an X post translated by BBC News, Belgium’s culture minister, Benedicte Linard, wrote, “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.” Israel denies committing breaking international law in Palestine, though the United Nations has cited “clear violations of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes,” by both parties, and called for Israel to “immediately end all practices of collective punishment” of Gazans.

Last month, a UN rights expert said, “Intentionally depriving people of food is clearly a war crime. Israel has announced its intention to destroy the Palestinian people, in whole or in part, simply for being Palestinian. In my view as a UN human rights expert, this is now a situation of genocide. This means the state of Israel in its entirety is culpable and should be held accountable—not just individuals or this government or that person.”

The Eurovision Song Contest takes place from May 7 to 11 in Malmo, Sweden. Israel has won the competition four times, most recently in 2018 for Netta’s “Toy.”

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