Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest
|National selection events||Kdam Eurovision|
|Appearances||36 (31 finals)|
|Best result||1st: 1978, 1979, 1998|
|Worst result||24th SF: 2007 SF|
|Israel's page at Eurovision.tv|
Israel has been represented frequently at the Eurovision Song Contest, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) being a member organization of the European Broadcasting Union which is responsible for the occasion. The IBA participated for the first time in 1973. Israel has participated a total of 36 times, winning the contest on three occasions: in 1978, 1979, and 1998. As a result, Israel has hosted the contest twice, in 1979 and 1999 (in 1980 the IBA declined to host the contest for a second successive year). Israel has never finished last in the contest, but however it has placed second to last three times.
To date there have been three Israeli victories in the contest. Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta won in Paris in 1978 with the uptempo A-Ba-Ni-Bi. On home ground in Jerusalem the following year, Israel won again, this time with the anthemic Hallelujah performed by Gali Atari & Milk and Honey. Unusually, Israel did not defend the title in 1980 (see below). The third victory came in Birmingham in 1998. Transsexual Dana International took top honours with the song Diva, setting off widespread celebrations in Israel.
Israel's earliest selections were picked by the Israel Broadcasting Authority. The first singer to represent the country was Ilanit, who finished 4th in 1973. Criticism increased after she was sent again four years later, leading to a rule that the winner of the already established Hebrew Song and Chorus Festival would also represent Israel at Eurovision. The Eurovision Song Contest winners of 1978 and 1979 were selected by this method. From 1981 the selection process was handled by the Kdam Eurovision with the exceptions of 1990, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002–2004, 2006–2007 and 2010 where the selections were again picked by the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
The winner of the 1980 Hebrew Song and Chorus Festival, a band called The Brothers & the Sisters with the song "Pizmon Chozer", did not take part in the Song Contest. After winning the contest in 1978 and 1979, the IBA was financially and logistically unable to organise the event for the second time in a row. The organization of the festival was subsequently handed over to the Netherlands. Because much time had already passed, it was difficult to find a suitable date for the Song Contest. The date chosen coincided with a memorial day in Israel, and the country was forced to withdraw. This made Israel the only country to date that was unable to try to defend its title.
Apart from its victories, Israel's entries have had a mixed reception at the contest. Avi Toledano (1982) and Ofra Haza (1983) scored well with big revivalist numbers, but the all singing, all dancing style became less popular later in the decade and Israel's 1986 entry, Yavo Yom by Moti Giladi & Sarai Tzuriel, came in 19th, the worst showing yet.
In 1987 Israel finished 8th with Shir Habatlanim by the satiric duo Datner & Kushnir. Due to its satiric nature, it prompted then Israeli Minister of Culture, Yitzhak Navon, to threaten to resign, if the song went on to represent Israel on the night of the contest. He never did, though.
In 1990 Rita's sensuous ballad was not well received, but in 1991, Orna and Moshe Datz finished third, Israel's best result since 1983. Israel also had a 5th-place finish by Eden when it hosted the 1999 Eurovision. However, Ping-Pong's disco effort in 2000 failed badly, though the group was noted for their largely optimistic lyrics and message of reconciliation and peace in Western Asia. They went as far as waving Syrian flags at the end of their performance, angering some Israelis.
In 2004 David D'Or came in 11th in the semifinal with the song "Leha'amin" (להאמין), leaving Israel out of the finals for the first time since 1997. Shiri Maymon's performance in Kiev in 2005 brought Israel back to the top five, and ensured a place in the Athens 2006 final. In Eurovision 2006, Israel was represented by singer Eddie Butler, who had finished 5th as part of Eden in 1999; however, his performance of the song "Together We Are One" finished 23rd, with only four points.
IBA's Eurovision committee chose the band Teapacks to represent Israel in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final in Helsinki, whose humorous entry did not fare well, finishing in 24th place out of a semifinal field of 28 and failing to reach the final. Israel had to compete in the semifinal in Belgrade 2008, from which it passed on to the final; Boaz finished 9th. At the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, an Arab citizen of Israel represented the country for the first time, as Mira Awad performed along with Jewish-Israeli singer Noa in Moscow. Israel was represented in 2010 by Harel Skaat, who came in 14th in the final.
Israels participations in the last three contests from 2011–2013 have been less successful, as former Eurovision winner Dana International in Düsseldorf, Izabo in Baku and Moran Mazor in Malmo, all failed to qualify for the final.
Arab reaction to Israeli participation
In 1978, during the performance of the Israeli entry, the Jordanian broadcaster JRTV suspended the broadcast, and instead showed pictures of flowers. When it became apparent during the later stages of the voting sequence that Israel was going to win the contest, JRTV abruptly ended the transmission. Afterwards, the Jordanian news media refused to acknowledge the fact that Israel had won, and announced that the winner was Belgium (which had actually come in 2nd). By coincidence, Israel didn't broadcast the victory either, as the IBA did not buy enough broadcasting time. The victory was broadcast the next day.
Because of Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, many Arab states that are eligible to participate decided not to do so. Tunisia, Morocco, and Lebanon are cases in point. Tunisia was about to participate, but decided not to do so in the end; Lebanon was just about to participate in Eurovision Song Contest 2005 when it withdrew (incurring a fine) because Lebanese law does not allow recognition of Israel, and consequently Lebanese television would not transmit any Israeli material – which would have been a violation of EBU's (European Broadcasting Union) rules; and Morocco is so far the only African country that has participated, doing so in Eurovision Song Contest 1980 when Israel wasn't present.
- In 1996 Israel failed to qualify to the contest from the pre-qualification round.The official eurovision site does not count 1996 in Israel's total list of appearances.
- XX on the semi-finals denotes auto-qualification. This could be the result of one of the following two reasons; if a country had won the previous year, they did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. The other reason being that back in 2004-2007, the top ten countries who were not members of the big four did not have to compete in the semi finals the following year. If, for example, Germany and France placed inside the top ten, the countries who placed 11th and 12th were advanced to the following year's grand final along with the rest of the top ten countries.
- XX on the finals denotes an unsuccessful attempt at qualifying to the final.
As of 2013, Israel's voting history is as follows:
|1979||Jerusalem||International Convention Center||Yardena Arazi and Daniel Pe'er|
|1999||Dafna Dekel, Sigal Shachamon and Yigal Ravid|
Marcel Bezençon Awards
|Year||Song||Performer||Final Result||Points||Host city|
|2010||"Milim" (מילים)||Harel Skaat||14th||71||Oslo|
Artistic Award (Voted by commentators)
|Year||Performer||Song||Final Result||Points||Host city|
|2010||Harel Skaat||"Milim" (מילים)||14th||71||Oslo|
Lyrics (l) / Music (m)
|2010||"Milim" (מילים)||Tomer Hadadi (m) and Noam Horev (l)||Harel Skaat||14th||71||Oslo|
Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest
|Dana International||"Diva" (דיווה)||13||39||1998||1||172|
- O'Connor, John Kennedy (2005). The Eurovision Song Contest 50 Years The Official History. London: Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-84442-586-X.
- "Eurovision Song Contest 1978". esctoday.com. 2005. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
- "Lebanon withdraws from Eurovision". BBC News. 18 March 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2006.
- Points to and from Israel eurovisioncovers.co.uk