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Scrutiny of Israel’s Eurovision Song May See Country Leave Contest

Israel may withdraw from Eurovision if the country's song entry October Rain is not allowed by the organizers of the contest.
Israel may withdraw from Eurovision if the country’s song entry, “October Rain,” is not approved by the organizers of the contest. Credit: steven.eason. CC BY-2.0/flickr

Israel’s Eurovision song entry, “October Rain,” which allegedly references the October 7th Hamas attacks, is being “scrutinized” by the organizers of the competition, who are considering whether the lyrics breach non-political rules, one week after Israel was given the all-clear to take part.

The lyrics from Israel’s entry, “October Rain,” sung by Eden Golan, were leaked to the media. Lines in the song include “There’s no air left to breathe,” and “They were all good children, each one of them,” according to the Israel Hayom newspaper.

The song also makes reference to “flowers,” which the Israeli newspaper reported is military code for war fatalities.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the contest, being held in Malmo, Sweden in May, explained that the competition is a non-political event, and participants can be disqualified if they break this rule.

The war in Gaza has been the subject of many circulating petitions, which call for Israel to be removed from Eurovision, but the EBU announced last week that it had carried out a review and come to the decision that Israel could participate.

According to the organizers in Malmo, the city has made security preparations that factor in the war in Gaza, the war in Ukraine, Sweden’s NATO application, and cybersecurity threats.
“The EBU is currently in the process of [scrutinizing] the lyrics, a process which is confidential between the EBU and the broadcaster until a final decision has been [made],” a Eurovision spokesperson told The Guardian.

“All broadcasters have until March 11 to formally submit their entries,” the spokesperson explained. “If a song is deemed unacceptable for any reason, broadcasters are then given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, as per the rules of the contest.”

Comments from Israel on Eurovision controversy

Israel’s national broadcaster Kan, which sponsors the Israeli entry, confirmed to Reuters that the leaked lyrics were accurate and said it was “in dialogue” with the organizers about the issue. Israel Culture Minister Miki Zohar said it would be “scandalous” to disqualify the song, which he claimed was not political.

“The song of Israel, which will be performed by Eden Golan, is a moving song, which expresses the feelings of the people and the country these days, and is not political,” he wrote on X.

“We all hope that Eurovision will remain a musical and cultural event and not a political arena—where the participating countries can bring their uniqueness and nationalism to the stage through music,” he said. “I call on the European Broadcasting Union to continue to act professionally and neutrally, and not to let politics affect art.”

Kan released an article on its website saying, “It should be noted that as far as the Israel Broadcasting Corporation is concerned, there is no intention to replace the song. Meaning, if it is not approved by the European Broadcasting Union—Israel will not be able to participate in the competition that will be held in Sweden this coming May.”

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