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Israel threatens to withdraw from Eurovision as song faces ‘scrutiny’ for Hamas references

Eden Golan's entry is said to contain references to the October 7 attacks.

By Nick Reilly

Eden Golan (Picture: Shai Franco)

Israel has threatened to withdraw from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest if organisers decide to censor their entry.

It comes after the country selected 20-year-old Eden Golan as their entry for this year’s contest, which is set to be held in Malmö, Sweden.

Golan’s song is titled ‘October Rain’, and reportedly continues a number of references to Hamas’ October 7 attacks on the country, which sparked the current ongoing conflict with Palestine.

In one line, Golan is said to sing: “They were all good children, each one of them”. The track also reportedly alludes to “flowers,” which has been interpreted as a reference to war deaths.

The European Broadcast Union, which organises the contest, has now said it 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. If a song is deemed unacceptable for any reason, broadcasters are then given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics.”

In response, Israeli broadcaster KAN has said it would block any request for lyric changes.

“It should be noted that as far as the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation is concerned there is no intention to replace the song,” they said. “This means that if it is not approved by the European Broadcasting Union, Israel will not be able to participate in the competition, which will take place in Sweden next May.”

(Picture: Eurovision)

The latest development comes after the contest faced intense backlash and criticism after allowing Israel to compete. Last month, an open letter to the EBU was signed by over 1000 Swedish artists including the likes of Robyn and First Aid Kit – which called for Israel’s withdrawal from the contest in May.

“The fact that countries that place themselves above humanitarian law are welcomed to participate in international cultural events trivialises violations of international law and makes the suffering of the victims invisible,” the letter reads.

It adds: “Allowing Israel’s participation undermines not only the spirit of the competition but the entire public service mission. It also sends the signal that governments can commit war crimes without consequences.”

On the flip side, the likes of Sharon Osbourne, Boy George and Gene Simmons have all backed Israel’s participation.

In a letter published by the Creative Community for Peace, they wrote: “We have been shocked and disappointed to see some members of the entertainment community calling for Israel to be banished from the Contest for responding to the greatest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Under the cover of thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately into civilian populations, Hamas murdered and kidnapped innocent men, women, and children.”

Despite not being a part of the continent, Israel made its debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973 as the first non-European country granted permission to participate in the event.