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Pro-Palestinian protesters march against Israel’s participation in Eurovision


Politics continue to loom large during this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Singer Eden Golan performed her song ‘Hurricane’ and secured her spot in Saturday’s final while almost 12,000 people protested Israel’s participation in the competition over the war in Gaza.

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Israel’s entry for Eurovision 2024 has qualified for the final of the competition after yesterday’s second semi-final, despite the country’s participation being contested in view of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel, whose participation in Eurovision has been the subject of much criticism, qualified with the song ‘ Hurricane ’, which was performed by Eden Golan in front of 9,000 people in the Malmö Arena.

The night before, the 20-year-old singer had been booed during dress rehearsals. There was a mixture of cheering and booing again during Thursday’s semi-final.

Speaking after the show, Golan said she was “overwhelmed with emotions”.

“It is truly such an honour to be here on stage, representing Israel with pride,” she said. “I’m so grateful for everyone who voted and took part in supporting us, and me.”

“You’ve already won,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a message to Golan.

“Eden, I want to wish you success,” he said in Hebrew. “You’ve already won – because you are not only competing in Eurovision in a proud and very impressive way, you are successfully facing a horrible wave of antisemitism – and you are standing up to it and representing the State of Israel with great honour.”

Earlier in the day, almost 12,000 people, including environmental activist Greta Thunberg, demonstrated in the host city against Israel’s participation in the competition, expressing their indignation at the war in Gaza.

Protesters waving Palestinian flags and holding banners that read: “Liberate Palestine” and “EUR legitimizes genocide” packed the historic Stortorget square near Malmö’s 16th-century town hall before a planned march through the city for a rally in a park several kilometers from the Eurovision venue.

Chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and “Israel is a terror state,” the demonstrators set off smoke flares in the Palestinian colors during a noisy, peaceful rally to criticize Israel and call for a cease-fire. There was a large police presence, with a hovering helicopter, and officers on rooftops with binoculars.

“It’s important to be here,” said Amani Eli-Ali, a Malmo resident of Palestinian heritage. “It’s not OK for Sweden to arrange this Eurovision and have Israel in the contest.”

Protester Saadallah Aoudi, a Swedish citizen with Palestinian roots, said “this is the wrong time” for Israel to take part in the competition.

“It’s about songs, and songs are about love. … They should be here when there is peace,” he said.

Although the protests were largely peaceful, there were armed police outside the hotel where Golan is staying, and she has been confined to her room when she is not on stage.

A smaller pro-Israel protest was also held yesterday in a central Malmö square.

Pro-Palestinian groups plan to march again on Saturday, the day of the Eurovision final.

Which countries have qualified for the final?

The 10 acts who succeeded in Thursday’s public vote were: Latvia, Austria, The Netherlands, Norway, Israel, Greece, Estonia, Switzerland, Georgia, Armenia.

The six countries eliminated were Albania, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Malta, and San Marino.

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Here are our predictions for which act will win this year’s Eurovision.

As it stands, the 26 Grand Finalists for this year are – in running order:

1. Sweden | Marcus & Martinus – Unforgettable

2. Ukraine | alyona alyona & Jerry Heil – Teresa & Maria

3. Germany | ISAAK – Always On The Run

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4. Luxembourg | TALI – Fighter

5. Netherlands | Joost Klein – Europapa

6. Israel | Eden Golan – Hurricane

7. Lithuania | Silvester Belt – Luktelk

8. Spain | Nebulossa – ZORRA

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9. Estonia | 5MIINUST x Puuluup – (nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi

10. Ireland | Bambie Thug – Doomsday Blue

11. Latvia | Dons – Hollow

12. Greece | Marina Satti – ZARI

13. United Kingdom | Olly Alexander – Dizzy

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14. Norway | Gåte – Ulveham

15. Italy | Angelina Mango – La Noia

16. Serbia | TEYA DORA – RAMONDA

17. Finland | Windows95man – No Rules!

18. Portugal | iolanda – Grito

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19. Armenia | LADANIVA – Jako

20. Cyprus | Silia Kapsis – Liar

21. Switzerland | Nemo – The Code

22. Slovenia | Raiven – Veronika

23. Croatia | Baby Lasagna – Rim Tim Tagi Dim

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24. Georgia | Nutsa Buzaladze – Firefighter

25. France | Slimane – Mon Amour

26. Austria | Kaleen – We Will Rave 

The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final takes place on Saturday 11 May.



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