Israel’s Eurovision Entrant Faces Down Her Critics

Taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest is nerve-racking, even when the audience welcomes you to the stage.

For one singer at this year’s contest, it will likely be particularly anxiety filled. When Eden Golan, 20, who is representing Israel, performs at the second semifinal on Thursday, a significant portion of the audience will not be cheering for her. In fact, many people don’t want her country to be at Eurovision at all.

For months, pro-Palestinian groups and some Eurovision fans have been trying in vain to get the contest’s organizers, the European Broadcasting Union, to ban Golan from taking part at this year’s event in Malmo, Sweden, because of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Those protests were particularly vocal after the title of Golan’s entry was announced in February: “October Rain,” an apparent reference to last year’s Hamas attacks, in which Israeli officials say about 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage. The European Broadcasting Union objected that the title and some of the song’s lyrics were overly political, and asked Israel to change them. Golan tweaked the song, which is now called “Hurricane.”

Golan with members of her team at a recording studio in Tel Aviv last month.Credit…Amit Elkayam for The New York Times

Eurovision’s organizers have always insisted that the contest is no place for politics, and this year is clamping down on slogans and symbols that could stir up dissent. Bambie Thug, representing Ireland, said at a news conference on Tuesday that, after a dress rehearsal, officials had demanded that the singer remove pro-Palestinian slogans from an outfit.

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