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Israeli singer Eden Golan advances to Eurovision Grand Final amid jeers, anti-Israel protests outside of Malmö arena

Eden Golan (2nd from right) and her team from Israel celebrate after reaching the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024. (Photo: Jens Büttner/DPA via Reuters

Israel’s contestant in the Eurovision song competition, Eden Golan, will be advancing to the Grand Finals on Saturday in Malmö, Sweden. The singer performed the Israeli song, "Hurricane" on Thursday night during the second round of semi-finals and earned enough viewer votes across Europe to continue to finals.

A delighted Golan said she is “overwhelmed with emotions."

"It's truly such an honor to be here on stage, performing and showing our voice and representing us with pride and making it to the finals.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Golan and wished her success ahead of the semifinal on Thursday night.

"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.

During rehearsals and her performance on stage this week,

Golan’s success comes amid anti-Israel protests and vocal opposition to Israel’s participation in Eurovision because of the ongoing war in Gaza between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization.

Despite Eurovision’s inclusive slogan “United by Music,” large anti-Israel protests were staged outside the arena and in central Malmö. Climate activist Greta Thunberg could be seen in an anti-Israel demonstration wearing a keffiya.

Some boos could be heard among the audience inside the arena while Golan was performing. In addition, some musicians from various countries decided to boycott Eurovision this year because of Israel’s participation. Anti-Israel sentiments are widespread in Malmö, a city where some 25% of Malmo’s population are Muslims of Middle Eastern descent.

In February, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) responsible for Eurovision considered disqualifying Israel from participating in the song contest, claiming that Israel’s original song entry, “October Rain,” had “political lyrics.” The song’s title was a reference to the Oct. 7 massacre and was written by Avi Ohion, Keren Peles, and Stav Beger. However, the writers made adjustments to the lyrics and the title, and the new version, "Hurricane," was accepted.

Because Golan’s advancement depended on votes from music fans across Europe, it appears that many mainstream Europeans do not approve of the shameful and disruptive conduct of anti-Israel activists. For instance, Golan reportedly received 39% of the votes in Italy. Furthermore, following her win on Thursday night, Golan climbed from position No. 8 to No. 2 ahead of the Grand Finals, according to reports.

There have been extensive security arrangements surrounding this year’s Eurovision due to global tensions and high threat levels. Swedish police have been particularly focused on Golan and the Israeli delegation during their stay in Malmö. Ronen Bar, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, arrived in Malmo ahead of the competition to personally manage the security arrangements surrounding the Israeli delegation.

In April, Golan received death threats posted to her Instagram account due to the Gaza war. The threats included menacing messages warning that she would get hurt ahead of the large-scale music competition.

“I feel confident and determined to represent Israel in the best possible way. Our delegation travels with a trained security team, and I am sure they will do their best job to protect us,” Golan said.

The State of Israel has participated in Eurovision since the 1970s and since won the song competition four times. The first Israeli victory came in 1978 with Izhar Cohen performing the song “A-Ba-Ni-Bi.” The following year, the Israeli group Milk and Honey won with the iconic song “Hallelujah.” In 1998, Dana International won with the song “Diva” and in 2018 Netta Barzilai won with “Toy.”

Golan is the second Israeli to qualify for the Eurovision Grand Finals on Saturday night.

Tali Golergant, representing the nation of Luxembourg, qualified on Tuesday with her song “Fighter,” which she sang in French and English. Golergant was born in Israel and raised in Chile, Argentina and Luxembourg.

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

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