Israel requests to change the lyrics to its controversial Eurovision entry

Israel’s public broadcaster has submitted a request to change the lyrics to its entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.  

The country’s preferred option for the contest is ‘October Rain’ by the 20-year-old Eden Golan. The song’s lyrics appear to contain references to the victims of Hamas’ October 7 attacks.  

They were all good children, each one of them”, she sings in the track. The song also alludes to “flowers”, which has been noted as a potential reference to war fatalities.  

In response, the European Broadcast Union (EBU), which organises the contest, had initially said it was “currently in the process of scrutinising the lyrics, a process which is confidential between the EBU and the broadcaster until a final decision has been taken. If a song is deemed unacceptable for any reason, broadcasters are then given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics.”  

The Israeli broadcaster KAN initially said that they would withdraw from this year’s competition if the event’s organisers attempted to censor their entry. 

That intervention was later followed by the country’s president Isaac Herzog, who said that Israel’s voice must be heard from the Eurovision stage.  

“I think it’s important for Israel to appear in Eurovision, and this is also a statement because there are haters who try to drive us off every stage,” he said. “Being smart is not just being right,” he added.  

He has since gone on to say that “necessary adjustments” should be made to ‘October Rain’, so that it is allowed onto the show.  

This now appears to have triggered KAN to request that the song’s writer “readapt the texts, while preserving their artistic freedom” (via BBC).  

The country’s culture minister Miki Zohar had previously described the threat to censor the song as “scandalous”. “We all hope that Eurovision will remain a musical and cultural event and not a political arena,” he said. “I call on the European Broadcasting Union to continue to act professionally and neutrally, and not to let politics affect art.”  

Israel’s inclusion in this year’s competition has caused controversy on both sides. In January, an open letter was issued to the EBU, signed by over 1,000 Swedish artists including RobynFever Ray, and First Aid Kit – calling for Israel to be withdrawn from competing at the finale in Malmö, Sweden on May 11.  

“The fact that countries that place themselves above humanitarian law are welcomed to participate in international cultural events trivialises violations of international law and makes the suffering of the victims invisible,” the letter reads.  

On the other side of the argument, Sharon Osbourne, Gene Simmons and Boy George are among the famous faces who have signed an open letter, urging Eurovision organisers to allow Israel to compete this year.  

Published by the non-profit organisation ‘Creative Community for Peace’, the letter reads in part: “We have been shocked and disappointed to see some members of the entertainment community calling for Israel to be banished from the Contest for responding to the greatest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Under the cover of thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately into civilian populations, Hamas murdered and kidnapped innocent men, women, and children.”  

The European Broadcasting Union have previously referred to themselves as “an apolitical member organisation” who are “committed to upholding the values of public service,” however, they did ban Russia from competing in 2022 and Belarus the year prior. In 2009, Georgia withdrew from the contest after their entry ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’ was rejected due to its reference to the Russian president. 

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