Israel agrees to revise lyrics rejected by Eurovision | Arts and Culture News

Public broadcaster Kan says Israeli President Herzog has called for adjustments of song due to political content.

Israel has reportedly asked lyricists to revise the country’s proposed Eurovision Song Contest entries, potentially heading off a dispute with organisers over political content.

In a statement on Sunday, Israeli public broadcaster Kan said President Isaac Herzog had called for “necessary adjustments” to ensure Israel’s inclusion in the event, which it has won four times.

Authorities last week said Israel would not be able to participate in this year’s edition of the competition, which will be held in Sweden in May, if organisers rejected the song chosen to represent the country. Eurovision rules ban political content.

The song selected as Israel’s entry to the competition – October Rain – reportedly references victims of Hamas’s October 7 attacks on southern Israel that triggered the ongoing war in Gaza.

The Israeli broadcaster has “contacted the lyricists of the two selected songs, ‘October Rain’ which was chosen in first place and ‘Dance Forever’ which came in second, and asked them to re-adapt the texts, while preserving their artistic freedom”, the statement said.

“Among the new texts that will be proposed, Kan will choose the song that will be sent to the Eurovision supervisory committee, so that it approves Israel’s participation in the competition.”

The selected song, to be performed by 20-year-old Russian-Israeli singer Eden Golan, will be revealed on March 10, the statement said.

One line from the original lyrics of October Rain read: “They were all good children, every one of them.”

“There is no air left to breathe, there is no place for me,” the song ends, according to Kan, which has published the lyrics in full on its website.

Israel became the first non-European country to enter Eurovision in 1973, and its participation and hosting of the event have regularly run into controversy.

In 2019, Icelandic band Hatari, who previously challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Nordic folk wrestling match, made pro-Palestinian statements during the vote count in Tel Aviv.

Organisers also gave American pop icon Madonna a ticking off after her dancers flouted political neutrality rules by wearing Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes.

This year’s competition comes against the backdrop of the war, sparked by the Hamas attack which resulted in the deaths of 1,139 people in Israel.

Hamas fighters also took about 250 captives, with 130 still held in Gaza although 31 are believed to be dead, according to Israeli officials.

Israel’s military response has killed at least 30,410 people in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health in the Hamas-run territory.

After organisers barred October Rain last week for breaking rules on political neutrality, Kan insisted that it had “no intention to replace the song”, and threatened to withdraw from the competition.

But Herzog “emphasised that it is precisely at a time when those who hate us are seeking to repress and boycott the State of Israel” that the country “must raise its voice … loud and clear in every world forum”, Sunday’s Kan statement said.

Last month, Eurovision organiser European Broadcasting Union (EBU) rejected demands that Israel be barred from entering the competition due to its bombardment of Gaza.

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