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Israel to compete at Eurovision 2024 after changing controversial lyrics

Israel has been confirmed to compete at Eurovision 2024 following changes to its controversial lyrics.

It follows the news that Israel’s public broadcaster KAN submitted a request to change the lyrics for its entry this year. ‘October Rain’, which will be sung by 20-year-old Eden Golan, appears to contain references to the victims of Hamas’ October 7 attacks. The song was barred from performance due to breaking rules on political neutrality.

“They were all good children, each one of them”, Golan previously sang in the track. The song also alluded to “flowers”, which has been interpreted as a potential reference to war fatalities. As such, Israel threatened to withdraw from the competition if changes were to be made.

However, after Israeli president Isaac Herzog called for “necessary adjustments” to ensure Israel’s participation, KAN have now agreed that Israel’s song will be amended. Its title has been changed to ‘Hurricane’ and shared this weekend.

They said: “The president [Isaac Herzog] emphasised 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.”

Eden Golan. CREDIT: ESC Beat

Eurovision organisers European Broadcasting Union (EBU) released their own statement, confirming the entry was now eligible for competition. “The contest’s reference group, its governing board, made the decision to accept the song ‘Hurricane’ for the upcoming competition after careful scrutiny of the lyrics.

“It was agreed that ‘Hurricane’ met the necessary criteria for participation in accordance with the rules of the competition.”

The contest has faced backlash and boycott calls for allowing the country to compete due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Over 1,000 Swedish artists called for Israel to be banned this year, such as Robyn, Fever Ray, and First Aid Kit.

Over 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals have signed a petition to ban the country from taking part of the contest as well.

Olly Alexander, who is the UK’s entry this year, signed a pro-Palestine letter that called Israel an “apartheid state” and accused it of genocide in December. He received criticism from The Conservative Party, along with Jewish charity Campaign Against Antisemitism.

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