Israel PM Netanyahu Sends Eurovision Entry Good Luck Video Ahead Of Semi-Final, Amid Protests

Israel participated in the Eurovision Song Contest on Thursday evening, as thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in the host city of Malmo, Sweden, to protest against the country’s participation in the competition.

The Israeli entry Eden Golan was booed during a rehearsal of her song Hurricane on Wednesday, but she was greeted with cheers – if not quite as euphoric as for some other acts – during Thursday evening’s semi-final, and was voted through to Saturday’s Grand Final.

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The Jerusalem Post reports that, prior to the second semi-final, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Golan good luck in a video.

In his statement, Netanyahu said, “Eden, I want to wish you success, but you have already succeeded. You not only face Eurovision n a proud and impressive way, but you successfully face a wave of anti-semitism while standing and representing the State of Israel with respect.”

The BBC reports that 12,000 people, including climate activist  Greta Thunberg, attended the pro-Palestinian protest in Malmo. A smaller pro-Israel demonstration also took place.

The countries who went through from the second semi-final were:

Latvia, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Israel, Greece, Estonia, Switzerland, Georgia and Armenia

They will join Ukraine, Serbia, Portugal, Slovenia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Finland, Croatia, Ireland and Luxembourg in the Grand Final.

In addition’, The Big Five’ – UK, Spain, France, Italy and Germany – plus host nation Sweden all go through automatically to the Grand Final without having to compete in the semi-finals.

Although the Contest’s rules prevent any nation making an overtly political statement, this year’s competition has seen unprecedented controversy, particularly over Israel’s inclusion.

UK entry Olly Alexander responded to an open letter from Queers for Palestine, signed by more than 450 artists urging him to boycott the event.

Alexander said in a lengthy post on X (formerly Twitter) why he thought it was right for him and other artists to remain in the Contest:

“As a participant I’ve taken a lot of time to deliberate over what to do and the options available to me. It is my current belief that removing myself from the contest wouldn’t bring us any closer to our shared goal.

“I hope and pray that our calls are answered and there is an end to the atrocities we are seeing taking place in Gaza.”

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