A Few Thoughts On 2018 Eurovision Winner

On May 12, Israeli Netta Barzilai won the annual Eurovision Song Contest with her catchy pop/dance song called “Toy.”[1] Wrapped in a “colorful, happy vibe,” the song makes an allusion to female awakening and a call for social justice. Immediately, the streets of Tel Aviv became filled with happy people dancing and jumping into fountains. [2] The song hit top ten in iTunes globally in no time. [3] The victory coincided with Israel’s 70th anniversary and the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, so there was a cause for multiple celebrations. All of this would be great if it weren’t for the darker side of the events.

The Gaza March of Return has been taking place along the Gaza border since March, resulting in heavy casualties on the Palestinian side. On May 14, the protests coincided with the opening of the US Embassy, resulting in more tensions in the region. [4] The fact that the next year’s contest will be held in Jerusalem has caused even more uproar among those who don’t support the new capital of Israel. According to some rumors, Eurovision 2019 might be held outside of Israel if several countries decide to boycott the contest. [5]

What’s more, a Dutch TV program created a parody with Netta’s song criticizing Iraeli foreign policy. This resulted in a formal complaint and allegations of antisemitism. [6] In short, what could’ve been just another dance song, another success in the diverse music industry, turned into something ugly and politicized.

My opinion on the whole situation is a bit mixed. Naturally, I don’t support killing of children and women, and I’m sure no one in their right mind ever would. I also realize that I don’t have all the information on what is truly happening in Gaza and whether these protests are peaceful, so I cannot comment too much on the situation.

I also feel that mixing music and politics in just wrong. While it’s OK to hold a different opinion and to voice it, it’s not OK to use someone else’s song, choreography, and costumes to bash their country. No one would ever create a parody to an American or Canadian song to point out the misgivings of either government (which I’m sure the’re many). I cannot imagine one of the flashy video clips by Nicki Minaj or classy songs by Celine Dion being used as parodies to bash Trump of Trudeau. Such idea seems pretty ridiculous. When it comes to Israel, everything is more tense, more political, more divided in terms of the opinions.

Regardless of the circumstances, I still feel happy for Netta’s victory in a such a big music contest, and I would love to see Eurovision happen in one of my most favorite cities. Either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv will make a great candidate, but I’m rooting more for Tel Aviv because 1) it seems more neutral in terms of the political scene; 2) it’s rich in music and culture; and 3) the Bloomfield Stadium would a great venue. It would be even wiser to hold the contest in a place like Eilat or Cesaria, where politics and controversy play a lesser role and perhaps use Israel’s history and cultural diversity as the main theme for the contest. However, it’s not up to me to decide on these things.

A small disclosure: it took me a while to like the song, as I’m used to “fluffier,” more poetic songs from the 90s and 00s that speak about peace or undying love. Yet with time, “Toy” kind of grew on me, and I actually enjoy the beat and the singer’s attitude. At the end of the day, a song is just a song.

Congratulations, Netta!


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