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Russian-Israeli singer Eden Golan is to represent Israel at the song contest in May. Kan
october rain

Eurovision officials scrutinising Israel entry 'October Rain' amid concern over political lyrics

Israel may be asked to submit a new song or new lyrics if the current version is deemed unacceptable.

THE ORGANISERS OF the Eurovision Song Contest have said they are “scrutinising” the lyrics of Israel’s entry to this year’s competition amid reports in the country’s media that the song may be rejected due to perceived political lyrics.  

‘October Rain’ has not been released publicly but is understood to have been put forward as the Israeli entry for this year’s competition, set to take place in the Swedish city of Malmo in May.

In a statement to The Journal the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) confirmed it is examining the content of the song and has been in contact with national broadcaster KAN, which has responsibility for the entry.

“The EBU 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. All broadcasters have until 11 March to formally submit their entries.

“If a song is deemed unacceptable for any reason, broadcasters are then given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, as per the rules of the Contest.”

The song is performed by Russian-Israeli singer, Eden Golan, who was selected via a TV talent show after performing a cover of Aerosmith’s Don’t Want to Miss a Thing in the finale. The performance was dedicated to the remaining hostages taken by Hamas during the 7 October raids, and she performed the song surrounded on stage by empty chairs. 

The song has yet to be released but KAN has confirmed the name of the entry.

In 2021, Belarus was banned from the contest after EBU scrutinising found the first song they submitted had a political subtext. After being invited to submit a second song, it too was found to be politically motivated.

Responding to the announcement that the EBU is reviewing the lyrics of Israel’s entry, the country’s Minister for Culture Miki Zohar labelled it “scandalous”. He added that the song is “moving” and reflects the feelings of the Israeli people.

Zohar added: “We all hope that Eurovision will remain a musical and cultural event and not a political arena – where the participating countries can bring their uniqueness and nationalism to the stage through music.”

Israeli outlet Ynet has reported that KAN has said it will not submit a second song, if requested to. A spokesperson for the broadcaster told The Times of Israel that it is “involved in dialogue with the EBU in regards to the song that will represent Israel at the Eurovision”.

RTÉ has received hundreds of emails asking it to boycott the competition due to Israel’s involvement.

Ireland’s entry, Bambie Thug, told The Journal last month that they believed Israel should not be allowed to compete this year due to the state’s actions in Gaza. In December, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he did not back calls for Ireland to boycott the competition.

In statements on the controversy in recent months the EBU has consistently described the Eurovision as “a non-political event that unites audiences worldwide through music”.

Russia was excluded from the competition in 2022 due to the invasion of Ukraine after organisers said that to do otherwise would “bring the competition into disrepute”, and did not take part in last year’s contest either. The EBU has said the decision to exclude Russia was made by governing bodies of the organisation.