Eurovision Organisers Respond To Latest Speculation About Israel's Involvement In Contest

The Israeli broadcaster has said it would rather withdraw from Eurovision than make changes to its competing song.
Israeli singer Noa Kirel performing at Eurovision in May 2023
Israeli singer Noa Kirel performing at Eurovision in May 2023
Licensed by Story Picture Agency/Shutterstock

Despite repeated calls for Israel to be dropped from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, organisers have insisted the country will be allowed to compete.

A statement from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) released over the weekend said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition for public broadcasters from all over Europe and the Middle East. It is a competition for broadcasters – not for governments – and the Israeli public broadcaster has been participating in the competition for fifty years.

“The EBU is a member-led organisation. The governing bodies of the EBU – led by the Board of Directors – represent the members. These authorities assessed the list of participants and decided that the Israeli public broadcaster complies with all competition rules. Together with 36 other channels, it can participate in the competition next year.”

However, reports have now suggested Israel could withdraw from the contest voluntarily if it is required to make changes to its competing song.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ynet, the country’s offering is currently being reviewed by the EBU due to its perceived “political” lyrics.

Swedish singer Loreen is the reigning Eurovision champion
Swedish singer Loreen is the reigning Eurovision champion
picture alliance via Getty Images

Citing unspecified “European sources”, Ynet claimed the song – rumoured to be titled October Rain – could be found to be in breach of Eurovision rules due to reported political references in its lyrics.

While the EBU would offer Israel the opportunity to rewrite the lyrics in question, the country’s national broadcaster KAN has said: “We will not change the words or the song, even at the cost of Israel not participating in Eurovision this year.”

An EBU spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost UK: “The EBU is 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. All broadcasters have until 11 March to formally submit their entries.

“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.”

Russian-Israeli singer Eden Golan has already been selected as the Israeli representative at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Malmö, Sweden, following Loreen’s historic victory in 2023.

The 20-year-old previously represented Russia at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest back in 2015.

Former Years & Years singer Olly Alexander will be representing the UK with a new song titled Dizzy.

Olly Alexander
Olly Alexander
Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images

In February 2022, Eurovision bosses made the decision that Russia should not be allowed to compete in the contest, due to the conflict in Ukraine.

“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute,” a spokesperson said at the time, adding: ”The EBU is an apolitical member organisation of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service.

“We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.”


What's Hot