Home » Eurovision 2024: Israel’s Eden Golan comes in fifth, Switzerland wins competition

Eurovision 2024: Israel’s Eden Golan comes in fifth, Switzerland wins competition

Eurovision 2024: Israel’s Eden Golan comes in fifth, Switzerland wins competition

Eden Golan won fifth place in the 68th Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night after she gave a flawless performance of the song “Hurricane” in the Eurovision final in Malmo, Sweden on Saturday night, as some in the crowd booed her while others cheered.

Switzerland’s “The Code” by Nemo took the top prize, a song that deals with the singer’s coming to terms with their non-binary identity.

Croatia’s Baby Lasagna, the heavy favorite early on, took second place with his high-energy song about a young man leaving home, “Rim Tim Tagi Dim.” Ukraine and France came in third and fourth.

Israel triumphs as antisemitism rages

But it was definitely a night of triumph for Golan and for Israel, as she placed high in the audience, televoting from around the world, proving that while there has been a wave of antisemitism around the world following the outbreak of the war against Hamas, thousands support Israel. 

The winner of the Grand Final is determined by a combination of audience televotes and national juries from the participating countries.

Nemo representing Switzerland reacts while holding flowers after winning during the Grand Final of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, in Malmo, Sweden, May 11, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

Israel received only 52 points from the juries but 323 points from the public.

Israel is booed by the audience

When Israeli radio presenter Maya Alkulumbre announced the votes of Israel’s national jury, there were boos from the audience. Israel gave its douze points to Luxembourg. 

Tali Golergant, an Israeli who performed for Luxembourg, walked the stage to cheers in the opening and later performed her song, “Fighter,” to an enthusiastic response.

During the tallying process, every time Israel got any points, there were boos in the crowd.

Golan was in eighth place going into the competition according to the betting tables and jumped to second after her performance on Thursday in the semi final.

The son, “Hurrican,” references the October 7 massacre carried out by Hamas in Israel, and her performance brought out the serious meaning of the song. 

At the end of the song, she recited a few lines in Hebrew, which means: “We don’t need big words, just prayers/Even if it’s hard to see/You always leave me one little light.” The haters tried to drown out these words, as they did on Thursday night, but Golan kept her cool in both her final and semi-final performances, singing and dancing beautifully.

In the opening of the Grand Final, as Golan took her turn walking the stage with the Israeli flag, the organizers played the pop tune, “I Love It” by Icona Pop, which features the chorus, “I don’t care/I love it,” and she beamed. And given everything she has gone through during the past week in Malmo, she has earned the right to smile at these lyrics.

Pro-Palestinian protests outside of the venue lead to Greta Thunberg’s arrest

Protests took place near the venue Saturday night, as they had on Thursday, and climate activist Greta Thunberg was arrested on Saturday at a pro-Palestinian by the local police in Malmo, Sweden, Y-Net reported on Saturday night. Footage shared on X showed Thunberg wrapped in a keffiyeh scarf being carried out of the event by the police.

Few people outside Sweden know that Thunberg’s mother, Malena Ernman, is a professional singer who represented Sweden in Eurovision in 2009, finishing in 21st place. That was the year that Israel sent Noa and Mira Awad, a Jew and a Christian Arab, to compete. The duo finished in 16th place with their song, “There Must Be Another Way,” which celebrates coexistence, although if her mother ever told her about that, Thunberg seemed to have forgotten on Saturday.

There was real concern about the well-being of Golan and her entourage, as well as Israeli fans attending, because of the protests and threats, particularly since Malmo has a large Muslim population, much of which, according to media reports, is particularly hostile to Israel.

 According to multiple reports, 100 Swedish police officers were deployed to protect the Israeli delegation. Golan and her entourage traveled in a long motorcade with blacked-out windows like a head of state. The Israeli government issued travel warnings for Israelis attending the event, and the head of the Shin Bet security agency, Ronen Bar, went to Malmo to personally supervise Golan’s security. Golan and her entourage were advised to stay in their hotel rooms at all times when not performing.

Golan has faced down haters throughout the Eurovision competition,n which began on Tuesday, enduring boos and derisive shouts as she performed in the second semi-finals on Thursday night and at dress rehearsals. Ireland’s contestant, Bambie Thug, told reporters they cried when it was announced that Golan would take part in the final. “It is a complete overshadow of everything, goes against everything that Eurovision is meant to be,” the singer said.

Hundreds of artists from Ireland signed a letter asking Bambie Thug to boycott the competition, but they did not agree to do so. Other artists from several European countries called for Israel to be barred from competing.

According to a report in The Sun, Loreen, last year’s Eurovision winner from Sweden, has sparked controversy by stating she would not hand over the trophy to Golan if she won due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. 

Despite being legally obligated to perform and participate in the trophy handover as last year’s winner, Loreen planned, according to the report, to leave the trophy on a plinth and exit the stage before the victory announcement. This stance has intensified tensions behind the scenes. 

While Golan said in numerous interviews that she had felt only “good vibes” from her fellow contestants, clearly she faced some hostility. 

During a press conference after she advanced to the final, a Polish journalist asked Golan, “Have you ever thought that by being here, you bring risk and danger for other participants?” Told she didn’t have to answer the question, Golan responded, nonetheless, “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.”

As she spoke with dignity, Greek singer Marina Satti pretended to pretend to fall asleep, and the Netherlands’ Joost Klein put a Dutch flag over his face, in an apparent attempt to disassociate himself from the Israeli. Klein was later ejected from the competition for an unrelated altercation.

In an additional incident, in a video published on Thursday, last year’s runner-up from Finland, the singer Käärijä, could be seen dancing with Israel’s Golan. Later on Thursday, he commented on the event in an Instagram story. “I happened to meet Israel’s Eurovision representative today, and a video was filmed of us,” the post read. “It was then posted on social media without my permission. Despite my requests for its removal, it has not been taken down. I would like to clarify and emphasize that the video is not a political statement or an endorsement of any kind,” wrote Käärijä. 

The tension was apparent at the opening on Tuesday night, even though Golan did not perform that night. Swedish singer Eric Saade performed at the opening of the first semi-finally with a keffiyeh wrapped around his hand, although political symbols were banned.

 A spokeswoman for the EBU said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a live TV show. All performers are made aware of the rules of the contest, and we regret that Eric Saade chose to compromise the non-political nature of the event.” The EBU did not post footage of Saade to its social media accounts. Ireland’s Bambie Thug, who qualified for the final on Tuesday night, was required by the producers to remove pro-Palestinian messages from their costumes when they performed.

 As Golan focused on honing her performance on Saturday, she received a meaningful call from Gal Gadot. The Wonder Woman star told her in a FaceTime call to concentrate on her performance and to tune out those who want to discourage or rattle her. 

Another high-profile fan, French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, best known as a highbrow intellectual and political activist, tweeted Saturday that although he had never before voted in the Eurovision Song Contest, tonight he would do so to support Israel’s Eden Golan.

“I never voted for #Eurovision. But I will vote #EdenGolan because she is talented. Because she is brave. And because, in this world gone mad, in the face of the wind of hatred against #Juifs unprecedented for 80 years, in the face of stupidity, her victory will be a landmark,” he wrote.

Another fan of Golan was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who wished her well in a video message before her performance on Thursday night. In his statement, Netanyahu said, “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 anti-Semitism while standing and representing the State of Israel with respect.”

Others showed their displeasure over the participation of Israel in different ways. A Eurovision song contest viewing party at New York City’s 3 Dollar Bill bar was canceled on Thursday after Golan advanced to the final. 

The “Queer-owned and operated Nightclub” apologized for scheduling the event and said that hosting the party did not align with their values. “We understand the concerns raised by our community regarding the need for boycott,” said the bar, adding the hashtag “never again for anyone.” The organizers of Eurovision Party London, one of that city’s largest and most popular watch parties, canceled its event two months ago, citing Israel’s participation in Eurovision as the reason for the cancellation, and a number of other British venues followed suit.

 In Berlin, some bars canceled their watch parties or turned them into events to support Palestinians in Gaza, but most of the parties are planned to go on as usual.

But Golan, who said in an interview last week that “This isn’t just another Eurovision,” made sure, along with the Kan team that oversaw the song, that her performance would be meaningful. 

The music video released with the song seemed to show Golan and dancers in a field like where the Supernova Music Festival, where almost 400 concertgoers and staff were killed on October 7 and another 400 were kidnapped, took place. 

The song by Avi Ohayon, Keren Peles, and Stav Berge, contains these lyrics in English, “Every day, I’m losin’ my mind.. . Dancin’ in the storm/I got nothing to hide/Take it all and leave the world behind/Baby promise me you’ll hold me again/I’m still broken from this hurricane.” The costumes are sand-colored strips of cloth, very different from the usual body-baring, flashy Eurovision look, and were designed by Alon Livne and styled by Itay Bezaleli. They looked like torn clothes or bandages,s and the dancers moved in a loose-limbed but focused way that was reminiscent of Batsheva choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Gaga technique.

It isn’t a stretch to see the song as the words of a young woman who has lost the love of her life in the massacre, looking back and honoring his memory.

As the families of the 134 hostages held by Hamas since October 7 and their supporters protested throughout Israel on Saturday night, other Israelis gathered to enjoy the song contest, an Israeli tradition. 

Eurovision has always loomed large in the Israeli cultural landscape because it was one of the first international arenas in which Israel excelled. Eurovision was started in the wake of World War II to encourage peaceful competition among nations and has blossomed into a glittery extravaganza, with millions around the world watching it on television and voting for the winner.

Israel began taking part in Eurovision in 1973, since it would not have been welcomed in a Middle Eastern regional song contest.

 It took home the top prize in 1978 and 1979 with wins for Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta for the song “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” and Milk and Honey for “Hallelujah,” respectively, and again in 1998 with Dana International’s “Diva.” Israel last won in 2018, when Netta Barzilai performed “Toy,” and the 2019 contest took place in Tel Aviv.  

For many Israelis, watching the contest again and seeing Golan’s grace under pressure was a way to return to some semblance of normalcy during the war, despite several missile alerts during Eurovision in both the north and south. Some survivors of the massacre at the Supernova Music Festival have used the phrase, “We will dance again,” to express hope for the future, and Golan showed us this week in Malmo that we will sing again, too.

The Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.