Eurovision 2024: Israel’s Eden Golan makes it through to grand final with Hurricane after protests | Ents & Arts News

Israel has made it into the Eurovision grand final, despite calls for the country’s entry to be banned from the contest.

Israel’s success in reaching the final stage of the show – which will take place on Saturday – comes against a backdrop of large protests across Malmo, Sweden, which is this year’s host city.

The Pro-Palestinian demonstration before the Eurovision Song Contest. Pic: AP

Israel‘s song Hurricane – sung by 20-year-old Eden Golan – had to be reworked after an initial version titled October Rain was ruled too political by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which believed some lyrics referred to the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.

Some believe that some lyrics in the current song – including “Dancin’ in the storm… I’m still broken from this hurricane,” still refer to attacks seven months ago which killed more than 1,000 people and resulted in hundreds of hostages being taken.

During an earlier rehearsal on Tuesday, Golan was met with boos and cries of “Free Palestine,” and an audience member appeared to have a Palestinian flag removed from them in the auditorium.

The EBU has said only flags that represent countries taking part, and the rainbow flag, can be brought to the event.

They have said other “flags, symbols, clothing, items and banners being used for the likely purpose of instrumentalising the TV shows” will be removed.

Golan performed her song Hurricane dressed in white and flanked by five backing dancers. The performance centred around a large wheel-like prop in the centre of the stage.

She has said she hopes to unite people through music.

Israel's Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU
Israel’s Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU

Condemnation of ‘harassment’ and ‘abuse’

In the run-up to the competition – which is the world’s largest live music contest – there have been demonstrations and calls for Israel to be banned over their ongoing ground offensive in Gaza.

However, the EBU – which says it is an apolitical organisation – has ruled that Israel can take part, saying it has not broken any broadcasting rules.

The EBU has also condemned the “harassment” and “abuse” of any acts taking part in the show.

This week, the EBU was forced to apologise after former Swedish contestant Eric Saade, who is reportedly of Palestinian origin, wore a keffiyeh around his wrist while he sang in an earlier rehearsal.

On Tuesday, ten acts were chosen for the final in the first semi-final: Ireland’s Bambie Thug, Ukrainian duo Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil, Finland’s Windows95Man, Serbia’s Teya Dora, Cyprus’s Silia Kapsis, Lithuania’s Silvester Belt, Croatia’s Baby Lasagna, Slovenia’s Raiven, Portugal’s Iolanda and Luxembourg’s Tali.

The “Big Five” (the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy, who are the largest contributors to the competition) all gain an automatic place in the competition along with host nation Sweden.

In March, nine contestants – including the UK’s Olly Alexander, Ireland’s Bambie Thug and Switzerland’s Nemo – called for a ceasefire in Gaza and the “safe return” of Israeli hostages in a joint statement.

UK's Olly Alexander with Dizzy. Pic: Corinne Cumming/EBU
UK’s Olly Alexander with Dizzy. Pic: Corinne Cumming/EBU

Ireland's Bambie Thug performing at the semi-final. Pic: Reuters
Ireland’s Bambie Thug performing at the semi-final. Pic: Reuters

However, they said they would not be boycotting the event in a bid to “uphold this space” and “inspire greater compassion and empathy”.

As it stands, no act has withdrawn from this year’s contest over the war.

More than 34,000 people have been killed, and over 77,000 have been injured in Gaza since the conflict began, according to Gaza’s Hamas-led health ministry.

Israel’s entry Golan, who has been performing since she was nine years old, left Israel when she was six to live in Russia with her family, but returned when she was 18.

Her song, which was co-written by one of the writers and producers of Israel’s 2018 winning number Toy – tells the story of a young woman experiencing a personal crisis.

It’s among the favourites with bookmakers to win the competition.

Last year Israel, who have been performing in the contest since 1973, came third with the song Unicorn performed by Noa Kirel. They have won Eurovision four times.

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The Grand Final is on Saturday night. Sky News will be in Malmo with updates, a live blog, and all the biggest news from the contest as it happens.


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