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Israel asks Eurovision candidate to change controversial lyrics

Israel’s entry to the Eurovision contest is due to be sang by Eden Golan   (GETTY)
Israel’s entry to the Eurovision contest is due to be sang by Eden Golan (GETTY)

Israel has requested that the lyrics of its leading submission for the Eurovision song contest be changed, after it was barred last week for breaking rules on political neutrality.

The lyrics included lines such as “They were all good children, each one of them”, an apparent reference to Hamas’s 7 October attack which saw 1,200 people killed after the border with Gaza was breached.

National broadcaster Kan had pledged not to alter the lyrics of October Rain, but Israel’s President Isaac Herzog has called for “necessary adjustments” to ensure the country can compete.

“The president emphasised that at this time in particular, when those who hate us seek to push aside and boycott the state of Israel from every stage, Israel must sound its voice with pride and its head high and raise its flag in every world forum, especially this year,” Kan said.

In a statement, the broadcaster said it had contacted the artist, as well as the lyricist of the second-place finalist, Dance Forever, to revise their lyrics while preserving their artistic freedom.

It will then officially choose a song to send to the Eurovision committee, ahead of the contest which is due to be held in the Swedish city of Malmö from 7 to 11 May.

When the Eurovision Broadcasting Union had said it was assessing the lyrics last month, Kan said it had “no intention to replace the song”, which is due to be performed by 20-year-old Eden Golan.

In previous years, countries have had to change their lyrics or have withdrawn from the competition after the EBU refused their song choices.

Georgia withdrew in 2019 after their entry ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’ was rejected for its reference to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, a number of artists from other countries have called for Israel to be suspended over the war in Gaza, which has seen over 30,000 killed and 80 per cent of the population displaced.