Eurovision, Take 2 [Updated Again]

I wrote here about how Israel’s presence has roiled Eurovision, the big European pop music competition. Each country is represented by an artist, either an individual or a group. After two semifinals, the lineup for the final evening is now set. Somewhat remarkably, the Israeli contestant passed through the semifinal round and will compete in the finals.

The result is predictable; the London Times reports: “Thousands protest over Gaza as Israel makes Eurovision final.”

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in Malmo, Sweden, on Thursday evening before the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest where Israel’s contestant, Eden Golan, performed her song Hurricane.

The police said about 12,000 people took part in the protest, though organisers claim the number was higher. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist, was in the crowd, wrapped in a keffiyeh, the traditional scarf that has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance. “Young people are leading the way and showing the world how we should react to this,” she said.

Greta Thunberg is a detestable human being. Security, happily, is tight:

Police mounted a major security operation and called in reinforcements from neighbouring Denmark and Norway for the semi-finals this week and Saturday’s grand final.

The major protest is expected tomorrow night:

More than 20,000 people from across Europe are expected to converge on Sweden’s third-biggest city to join demonstrations against Israel. Golan’s presence has become a focal point of the protest.

During an earlier rehearsal on Tuesday, she was met with boos and cries of “Free Palestine” and in the auditorium, a Palestinian flag appeared to be removed from a member of the audience.

You would think that after October 7, these people would have the decency to be ashamed. But no.

The organizers of the Eurovision event deserve a lot of credit. They refused demands to bar Israel from the competition:

The European Broadcasting Union, Eurovision’s organiser, said only flags that represented countries taking part, and the rainbow flag…

Of course.

…could be brought to the event.

Any other “flags, symbols, clothing, items and banners being used for the likely purpose of instrumentalising the TV shows” would be removed, the EBU said.

It rejected calls to disqualify Israel from the competition as it had not broken broadcasting rules.

Eden Golan’s semifinal performance came off without a hitch:

Golan’s performance passed without incident during broadcast, with loud cheers heard during the song. The camera panned to audience members dancing with an Israeli flag, while Golan blew kisses to the crowd and thanked them for their support. She went on to qualify for the final.

The judges deserve credit, too. Golan must have been good–talk about performing under pressure!–but the judges knew that including her in the finals would generate a big demonstration and, perhaps, violence. Speaking with the press after the semifinals, Golan was asked whether she was concerned that her presence may endanger others:

She was then asked if she had considered that her presence might be endangering others or increasing the security risks around the event. A moderator interjected and told Golan she did not have to answer the question, when Joost Klein, the Netherlands act, chimed in saying: “Why not?”

Golan replied: “I think we are all here for one reason and one reason only and the EBU is taking precautions to make this a safe and and united place for everyone,” she replied. “I think it is safe for everyone and we wouldn’t be here [if not]”.

This is the old heckler’s veto: you should go away, because your presence might enrage someone. Kudos to Eurovision for not knuckling under.

UPDATE: I assumed, I guess by analogy to American Idol, that a panel of judges decided which contestants would advance. My friend John Phelan points out that the rules are much more complicated than that. Semifinal winners are in fact decided by “televote,” which I take it is an online popular vote. I still don’t understand the mechanics, but check this out:

So the Italian “televote”–I assume random viewers–was overwhelmingly pro-the Israeli entrant. She may simply have been the best performer, but if her advancement was the result of a pan-European popular vote, it also suggests that the anti-Semitic protesters represent a small minority in Europe, as they do in the U.S.


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