Israel agrees to revise Eurovision song lyrics that evoked Hamas attack

FILE PHOTO: Eden Golan, Israel’s representative for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo sings during the final stage of ‘Rising Star’, the Israeli Eurovision national selection show, in Neve Ilan, Israel February 6, 2024. REUTERS/Koko/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has agreed to revise the lyrics of its potential submission to the Eurovision Song Contest after the contest organizers took issue with verses that appeared to reference Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Israel’s national broadcaster Kan said on Sunday.

Eurovision, which this year will take place on May 7-11 in the Swedish city of Malmo, bills itself as a non-political event and can disqualify contestants deemed to have breached that rule. Broadcaster Kan is tasked with choosing Israel’s entry.

The leading Israeli submission is “October Rain”, a ballad sung by female soloist Eden Golan.

According to lyrics leaked to the media, and later confirmed by Kan, it includes lines such as “There’s no air left to breathe” and “They were all good children, each one of them” – apparent allusions to people who holed up in shelters as Hamas gunmen carried out a killing and kidnapping spree at an outdoor music festival and other sites which sparked the war in Gaza.

Kan said it has asked the writers of “October Rain” and second place finalist “Dance Forever” to revise their lyrics, while also preserving their artistic freedom. It will then officially choose the song to send the Eurovision committee.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes Eurovision and has previously said it was in the process of scrutinising the lyrics, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kan’s decision.

The Israeli broadcaster said it agreed to make the changes following a request from the country’s president, Isaac Herzog.

“The president emphasized that at this time in particular, when those who hate us seek to push aside and boycott the state of Israel from every stage, Israel must sound its voice with pride and its head high and raise its flag in every world forum, especially this year,” Kan said.


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