Israel secures spot in Eurovision 2024 grand final

Israel secures spot in Eurovision 2024 grand final
Israel's participant Eden Golan celebrates placement in the final after the second semifinal of the 2024 Eurovision song competition at the Malmö Arena in Malmö, Sweden, 09 May 2024. EPA-EFE/Ida Marie Odgaard DENMARK OUT

MALMO, Sweden, May 9 (Reuters) - Switzerland and the Netherlands, two of the favourites to win Eurovision 2024, secured spots in Saturday's grand final alongside Israel despite large protests against the country's participation and booing during its performance.

Some 100,000 visitors have gathered in the southern Swedish city of Malmo for the annual kitsch-fest, under heavy police presence as authorities brace for possible unrest.

Swiss rapper and singer Nemo, 24, qualified from the second semi-final on Thursday with the song ‘The Code’, as did Joost Klein, 26, of the Netherlands with his song ‘Europapa’.

“Singing this song in front of a live audience and knowing that so many people are listening made me really emotional,” Nemo said during a press conference following the semi-final.

The song, a drum-and-bass, opera, rap, and rock tune, is about Nemo’s journey of self-discovery as a non-binary person.

“I think it’s really important that we have so much queer representation this year,” Nemo said, referring to Irish contestants Bambie Thug, who also secured a spot in the final after performing in the first semi-final on Tuesday.

Israeli solo artist Eden Golan, 20, and her song ‘Hurricane’ also qualified for Saturday’s grand show, which will feature performances from 26 countries.

Some booing was heard from the crowd before, during and after Golan’s performance but also applause and Israeli flags waving, according to a Reuters journalist in the auditorium.

“I’m so overwhelmed with emotions,” Golan later told the press conference.

“It’s truly such an honour to be here on stage performing and showing our voice and representing us with pride,” she said, adding the organisers had taken precautions to make the event safe for everyone.

The solo artist characterises her song as a strong power ballad that describes a person going through a storm of emotions.

Armenia, Austria, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Latvia and Norway also qualified for the final.

Eurovision organisers had resisted calls to exclude Israel over its military campaign in Gaza, triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, arguing that the competition is a non-political event.

More than 10,000 pro-Palestinian campaigners, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, staged a non-violent protest in the hours ahead of the semi-final, waiving Palestinian flags and shouting “boycott Israel”.

A smaller group of pro-Israeli supporters, including members of Malmo’s Jewish community, also staged a peaceful demonstration in the city, defending Golan and her nation’s right to take part in the contest.

Hundreds of artists in Sweden and elsewhere have pushed for Israel to be blocked from taking part, as did two Belgian government ministers earlier this year.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the event, requested earlier this year that Israel tweak its initial lyrics in order to participate, saying they had originally made reference to the Oct. 7 attack.

In a video statement earlier on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Golan for her participation.

“You are not only taking on Eurovision in a proud and very impressive manner, you are also contending successfully with an ugly wave of antisemitism – and representing the State of Israel with enormous honour,” Netanyahu said.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Tom Little and Ilze Filks in Malmo and Johan Ahlander, Writing by Louise Breusch Rasmussen, Editing by Sharon Singleton, Rosalba O’Brien, Terje Solsvik and Deepa Babington)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Kim Kieser says:

    Israel has every right to defend itself. It is ludicrous that a country attacked by hostile forces should stand back and take it. This would provoke future attacks with no repercussions for the attackers. Any country attacked has the right to retaliate.
    Jewish people have faced persecution for centuries. The attackers should explain their reasoning clearly and concisely. Jewish people have the right to life, safety, and security. I am not Jewish and I stand with the Jewish people and Israel. This senseless violence against them must stop. Leave the Jewish people alone and in peace. Should any reader have a counter and sensible argument, I would like to hear it. I doubt that there is one.

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