Israel Won Eurovision
BY Lee Saunders DATE 09/05/2018
Israel – 12 points!!!
Forty years since Israel’s first win, and 20 years since its last, Israel celebrated being crowned winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 for the fourth time on Saturday in Lisbon…
Amidst scenes of euphoria, the magnetic Netta Barzilai won the final of this year’s contest in Portugal, beating main rival Cyprus and Austria into 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Her song Toy, an uplifting self-empowerment song featuring voice synthesizers, has already become a global sensation with more than 50 million views on the official Eurovision YouTube channel.
A short while prior to the main event, while visiting the nearby Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, Netta, 25, from Hod Hasharon, performed the song live to an energetic 20-000 strong audience in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square at the Israel Calling event, which welcomed representatives of some of the other countries to the stage, many of them to Israel, for the first time.
Clearly, many had also practiced their Hebrew. Australia’s Jessica Mauboy opened with “Tel Aviv, ya habibi Tel Aviv,” San Marino and Moldova’s singers managed whole sentences, while Greece, Bulgaria and Norway sent video messages.
The participants also spent time touring Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, planting trees in the President’s Forest in Tzora, outside Jerusalem and watching a flotilla of yachts parade past the Herzliya Marina, a short walk from then Dan Accadia Herzliya.
Founded in 1956, Eurovision is the longest running annual international TV song competition in the world, with global superstars Abba and Céline Dion launching successful worldwide careers after their wins for Sweden (1974) and Switzerland (1988).
Five years after making its debut in the competition in 1973, Israel was crowned Eurovision winners in 1978 when Yemenite Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta group of singers made history, winning with the song Abanibi, which became an all-time Israeli classic.
The following year, Israel won again! One of only four countries to win back to back contests.
Held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, the legendary song Hallelujah, performed by Gali Atari and Milk and Honey, took top spot.
A further 20 years went by before transsexual Dana International also made history and dramatically won the 1998 song contest, which went down to the very last vote cast by Macedonia. Her huge techno-pop anthem Diva was a dancefloor classic across Europe.
While the format has changed, and the number of countries expanded over the years, the excitement has provided a welcome break from the tension of global politics as countries catapult singers onto the European stage to perform catchy ballads and dance tracks in often the most outrageous and eye-popping costumes.
Returning home following the win, the charming and talented overall competition winner, Netta Barzilai performed to an ecstatic Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv.
An estimated 200 million people around the world watched the event live on television. Many in Israel packed out pubs and bars on Ibn Gvirol, Allenby and Ben Yehuda streets, all a short hop from the Dan Tel Aviv and the Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, both hotels capturing the spirit of the event and providing luxurious welcomes to many Eurovision stars of years, present and past.
Next year in Jerusalem, indeed.
Written by Lee Saunders