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Israel defies critics winning 5th place in Eurovision

Eden Golan and the Israeli delegation received the second most votes from the public

Eden Golan, from Israel, appears onstage during the Grand Final of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, in Malmo, Sweden, May 11, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

Israeli singer Eden Golan secured a respectable fifth place with her song “Hurricane” in the 68th Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden, on Saturday night.

Switzerland won the top slot with, “The Code,” performed by the artist Nemo. The 'bookmaker favorite' - Baby Lasagna from Croatia - claimed second place, followed by Ukraine, France and then Israel.

At 20 years old, Golan delivered a flawless performance and maintained her composure amid widespread and vocal anti-Israel demonstrations, both inside and outside the arena.

The Israeli-born performer, who has lived much of her life in Moscow, Russia, performed in English but concluded her song with the following lines in Hebrew: “We don’t need big words, just prayers/Even if it’s hard to see/You always leave me one little light.

While Israel received just 52 points from the international jury vote, its delegation was awarded a whopping 323 points from the worldwide public, which was the second-highest number of votes

Switzerland received the maximum 12 points in the televoting score from Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Australia, Portugal, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Finland, Italy and San Marino. Most juries from these countries did not give Israel any points.

“I don't have words. I’m so happy,” an overjoyed Golan said after Israel’s top-five slot achievement. “We got to a crazy place, that’s our victory. It’s a great privilege to be here and to represent the nation.”

The Israeli singer appeared unfazed by the significant disparity between the jury's and the public's opinions.

“I think it was understood [that it would turn out that way],” Golan said.

This year’s Eurovision Song Competition was preceded by widespread calls to boycott Israel due to war in Gaza war. Before the semi-final earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Golan for her bravery.

“Eden, I want to wish you success, but you have already succeeded. You not only face Eurovision in a proud and impressive way, but you successfully face a wave of antisemitism while standing and representing the State of Israel with respect,” Netanyahu said.

Boos could be heard throughout the Eurovision arena during the Grand Finals every time Israel received any points. In addition, there were unprecedented boos from portions of the crowd when the Israeli radio presenter, Maya Alkulumbre, appeared on screen to deliver Israel's vote in the competition.

Due to the high level of threats, the Swedish host authorities deployed a large number of police officers to secure the music venue. Some 100 police officers were assigned to protect Golan and the Israeli delegation.

There have been widespread anti-Israel sentiments in Malmö, where around 25% of the residents are Muslims with Middle Eastern roots.

Anti-Israel activists openly participated in virulent antisemitic demonstrations outside of the arena that openly called for Israel’s destruction. Some of the participants chanted, “Send the Jews back to Poland!”

Other anti-Israel activists chanted, “Israel is a murderer, Sinwar, we will not let you die,” referring to the Hamas leader in Gaza, believed to be the mastermind behind the Oct. 7 massacre of at least 1,200 Israeli men, women and children.

Some media representatives appeared to blame Israel, rather than the anti-Israel activists, for the hateful sentiments in Malmö.

“Have you ever thought that by being here, you bring risk and danger for other participants?” a Polish journalist asked Golan provocatively.

“I think we’re all here for one reason, and one reason only. And the EBU is taking all safety precautions to make this a safe and united place for everyone, so I think it’s safe for everyone,” she responded.

Golan's fifth-place victory was particularly poignant as, back in February, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which sponsors the event, considered disqualifying Israel because the original version of the song, October Rain, was deemed to have “political lyrics” and to be in violation of Eurovision's rules.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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