Israel allowed to compete in Eurovision after changing controversial song lyrics

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Israel will be allowed to compete in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after changing the lyrics to its song, organisers have said.

Eden Golan will sing for Israel at the competition in Sweden, but her original song October Rain had caused controversy because it was thought to reference the 7 October Hamas attacks.

It had included lyrics such as: “There’s no air left to breathe” and “They were all good children, each one of them” – apparent allusions to victims of Hamas’ killing.

Eurovision bills itself as a non-political event and can disqualify contestants deemed to have breached that rule.

There has been pressure on European broadcasters to boycott Israel’s participation in the contest because of the war in Gaza.

Having initially refused to change the lyrics, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan agreed to amend them following an intervention by the country’s president Isaac Herzog.

The song is now entitled Hurricane.

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This latest development comes after calls by two Belgian ministers for Israel to be excluded from May’s contest while the Gaza war is ongoing as a punitive measure for the toll on Palestinian civilians.

“Just like Russia has been excluded from competitions and Eurovision following its invasion of Ukraine, Israel should be excluded until it puts an end to its flagrant violations of international law, which are causing thousands of victims, especially children,” culture minister Benjamin Dalle said on X.

Israel says it is the victim of a smear campaign over its push to root Hamas militants out of Gaza.

More than 30,000 Palestinians are believed to have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October, with fears that many more thousands could die if a famine breaks out.

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