Eden Golan performs for Israel at the Eurovision Grand Final, May 11, 2024. (Photo/Sarah Louise Bennett-EBU)
Eden Golan performs for Israel at the Eurovision Grand Final, May 11, 2024. (Photo/Sarah Louise Bennett-EBU)

Israel’s Eden Golan places fifth at the Eurovision Song Contest

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MALMÖ, Sweden — Israel’s Eden Golan placed fifth Saturday night at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 amid boos and protests from critics of her country and its prosecution of the war in Gaza.

Switzerland’s Nemo won the contest with their song “The Code,” becoming  Eurovision’s first nonbinary champion, and said in accepting the trophy that they hope that Eurovision will continue to “stand up for peace.”

At a post-show press conference, a journalist asked Nemo how the intense political environment around this year’s Eurovision had affected their experience.  “I have to say this whole experience was really intense, and not just pleasant all the way,” they said. “There were a lot of things that didn’t seem like it was all about love and unity,” adding that Eurovision’s commitment to “peace and love” “needs a lot of work still.”

Croatia’s Baby Lasagna came second with “Rim Tim Tagi Dim.”

Golan, whose performance in the final was met by a mix of boos and cheers in the arena, was awarded 375 points: 52 from the jury and 323 from the public — second only to Croatia’s entry, which earned 337.

Israel ranked 12th out of 25 competitors after the jury vote; national juries that awarded Golan points included Malta, Norway, Germany, Georgia, Moldova, Estonia, France, Belgium, Latvia, Cyprus and Lithuania.

Golan was visibly emotional after completing her performance, falling onto a green room couch in tears as her backup dancers hugged her.

Protesters chanting “Israel is a terror state” had greeted fans as they waited to enter Malmö Arena to watch the final Saturday, and inside, several participants in the contest slluded to the war.

Ireland’s Bambie Thug, who has been an outspoken critic of Eurovision allowing Israel to compete this year, ended their performance by saying: “Love will always triumph over hate.” Portugal’s Iolanda closed hers with: “Peace will prevail.” And the Austrian representative who delivered his country’s jury results, wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Equality,” commented that Eurovision is particularly important at a time when “Heartlessness seems to have prevailed.”

The Israeli representative who announced the Israeli jury’s top pick, meanwhile, was met with boos in the arena. It was Luxembourg’s Tali Golergant, who was born in Jerusalem and has a brother who served in Gaza with the Israel Defense Forces.

But the big story of the day leading into the final was the disqualification of the Dutch contestant, Joost Klein, a fan favorite for his song “Europapa,” over accusations that he had made a threatening gesture to female camerawoman at Thursday night’s semifinal. Klein had also upset Israeli fans that night by pressing Golan at a news conference to answer a question about whether her presence in Malmö created risks for other participants; he also made a comment critical of the European Broadcasting Union.

Some on social media speculated that Klein’s ouster related to Golan, but in announcing the decision, the EBU said in a statement: “We would like to make it clear that, contrary to some media reports and social media speculation, this incident did not involve any other performer or delegation member.”

Also on Saturday, at the last dress rehearsal before the final, French contestant Slimane paused his performance to give a speech advocating viewers to be “united by music, yes — but with love, for peace.” And Thug asked the EBU to investigate whether comments by KAN, Israel’s national broadcaster, about their performance during the first semifinal on Tuesday violated contest rules.

Talya Zax
Talya Zax

Talya Zax is the Forward’s innovation editor. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @TalyaZax.