Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest
|Member station||Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) (2018-)|
|National selection events|
|Appearances||40 (34 finals)|
|Best result||1st: 1978, 1979, 1998|
|Worst result||24th SF: 2007|
|Israel's page at Eurovision.tv|
Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 40 times since making its debut in 1973. Israel is able to enter the contest as a Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) member organisation of the European Broadcasting Union, which is responsible for the event. Israel has won the contest three times.
Israel's first appearance at the contest in 1973 was successful, with Ilanit finishing fourth. Israel then achieved back to back victories in 1978 and 1979, with wins for Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta, with the song "A-Ba-Ni-Bi" and Gali Atari and Milk and Honey, with "Hallelujah". The country's best results in the 1980s were the second-place finishes for Avi Toledano in 1982 and Ofra Haza in 1983. Former winner Izhar Cohen returned to place fifth in 1985. Duo Datz finished third in 1991, before Israel achieved its third victory in 1998, with Dana International and "Diva". Eden then finished fifth in 1999. Israel has hosted the contest twice, in 1979 and 1999, both times in Jerusalem. In 1980, the IBA declined to host the contest for a second successive year for financial reasons. Instead the contest was held in The Hague. As the date set for the 1980 contest conflicted with Yom Hazikaron – Israeli Memorial Day – Israel did not participate. This is the only time that the winning country did not compete the following year. As of 2014, Israel has the record for most participations in the contest without ever coming last, but it has placed second to last in the final three times, in 1986, 1993 and 2006.
Since the Introduction of the semi-finals in 2004, Israel has failed to reach the final six times. In 2014, the country failed to qualify for the fourth consecutive year, when Mei Feingold finished 14th (out of 15) in the second semi final, despite being one of the favourites to qualify. In 2015, Israel reached the final for the first time in five years, with Nadav Guedj finishing ninth. The only Israeli entrant to achieve a better result in the 21st century is Shiri Maimon in 2005, who gave the country its tenth top five result in the contest, finishing fourth.
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 almost 20 years later in Birmingham in 1998. Singer 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 in 1973 was Ilanit, who finished 4th. 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 the contest. 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 IBA.
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 consecutive year. The organization of the festival was subsequently handed over to the Netherlands who finally agreed to stage it. 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 unable 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 country's worst showing yet.
In 1987 Israel finished 8th with Shir Habatlanim by the satiric duo Lazy Bums. 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. However, he didn't.
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's third victory occurred in 1998, when Dana International won the crown with her song "Diva." Israel also had a 5th-place finish by Eden when it hosted the 1999 contest. 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 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 just four points.
IBA's Eurovision committee chose the band Teapacks to represent Israel in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final in Helsinki. Their humorous entry "Push the Button" 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 semi-final in Belgrade 2008, from which it passed on to the final; Boaz finished ninth. 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.
Israel's participations in the last four contests from 2011 to 2014 have been less successful, as former Eurovision winner Dana International in Düsseldorf, the band Izabo in Baku, Moran Mazor in Malmö and Mei Finegold in Copenhagen, all failed to qualify for the final. However, 16-year-old Nadav Guedj qualified with Golden Boy in 2015, the first Israel song without a Hebrew lyric.
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 second). By coincidence, Israel did not broadcast the victory either, as the IBA did not buy enough broadcasting time. The victory was broadcast the next day.
At the time, Israeli Television was in its infancy and broadcasting in black & white. Many/most Israelis therefore watched international events in colour, using the signal from neighbouring Jordan. As Jordan did not broadcast the Israeli entry and the IBA did not broadcast the results part of the event, the win only became known as a result of radio broadcasts.
Because of Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, many Arab states that are eligible to participate do not do so. Tunisia, Morocco, and Lebanon are cases in point. Tunisia was about to participate in 1977, but decided not to do so in the end; Lebanon was just about to participate in 2005 when it withdrew (incurring a fine by the EBU) 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.
- Table key
|1973||Ilanit||Hebrew||"Ey Sham" (אי שם)||4||97||No semi-finals|
|1974||Kaveret||Hebrew||"Natati La Khayay" (נתתי לה חיי)||7||11|
|1975||Shlomo Artzi||Hebrew||"At Va'Ani" (את ואני)||11||40|
|1976||Chocolate, Menta, Mastik||Hebrew||"Emor Shalom" (אמור שלום)||6||77|
|1977||Ilanit||Hebrew||"Ahava Hi Shir Lishnayim" (אהבה היא שיר לשניים)||11||49|
|1978||Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta||Hebrew||"A-Ba-Ni-Bi" (א-ב-ני-בי)||1||157|
|1979||Gali Atari & Milk and Honey||Hebrew||"Hallelujah" (הללויה)||1||125|
|1980||The Brothers & the Sisters||Hebrew||"Pizmon Chozer" (פזמון חוזר)||Withdrew|
|1981||Hakol Over Habibi||Hebrew||"Halayla" (הלילה)||7||56|
|1982||Avi Toledano||Hebrew||"Hora" (הורה)||2||100|
|1983||Ofra Haza||Hebrew||"Hi" (חי)||2||136|
|1985||Izhar Cohen||Hebrew||"Olé, Olé" (עולה, עולה)||5||93|
|1986||Moti Giladi & Sarai Tzuriel||Hebrew||"Yavo Yom" (יבוא יום)||19||7|
|1987||Lazy Bums||Hebrew||"Shir Habatlanim" (שיר הבטלנים)||8||73|
|1988||Yardena Arazi||Hebrew||"Ben Adam" (בן אדם)||7||85|
|1989||Gili & Galit||Hebrew||"Derekh Hamelekh" (דרך המלך)||12||50|
|1990||Rita||Hebrew||"Shara Barkhovot" (שרה ברחובות)||18||16|
|1991||Duo Datz||Hebrew||"Kan" (כאן)||3||139|
|1992||Dafna Dekel||Hebrew||"Ze Rak Sport" (זה רק ספורט)||6||85|
|1993||Sarah'le Sharon & The Shiru Group||Hebrew, English||"Shiru" (שירו)||24||4|
|1994||Did not participate|
|1996a||Galit Bell||Hebrew||"Shalom Olam" (שלום עולם)||Failed to qualify||28||12|
|1997||Did not participate||No semi-finals|
|1998||Dana International||Hebrew||"Diva" (דיווה)||1||172c|
|1999||Eden||Hebrew, English||"Yom Huledet (Happy Birthday)" (יום הולדת)||5||93|
|2001||Tal Sondak||Hebrew||"En Davar" (אין דבר)||16||25|
|2002||Sarit Hadad||Hebrew, English||"Nadlik Beyakhad Ner (Light A Candle)" (נדליק ביחד נר)||12||37|
|2003||Lior Narkis||Hebrew, English||"Milim La'Ahava" (מילים לאהבה)||19||17|
|2004||David D'Or||Hebrew, English||"Leha'amin" (להאמין)||Failed to qualify||11||57|
|2005||Shiri Maimon||English, Hebrew||"HaSheket SheNish'ar" (השקט שנשאר)||4||154||7||158|
|2006||Eddie Butler||English, Hebrew||"Together We Are One"||23||4||Top 11 Previous Year|
|2007||Teapacks||English, French, Hebrew||"Push the Button"||Failed to qualify||24||17|
|2008||Bo'az Ma'uda||Hebrew, English||"The Fire In Your Eyes"||9||124||5||104|
|2009||Noa & Mira Awad||English, Hebrew, Arabic||"There Must Be Another Way"||16||53||7||75|
|2010||Harel Skaat||Hebrew||"Milim" (מילים)||14||71||8||71|
|2011||Dana International||Hebrew, English||"Ding Dong" (דינג דונג)||Failed to qualify||15||38|
|2013||Moran Mazor||Hebrew||"Rak bishvilo" (רק בשבילו)||14||40|
|2014||Mei Finegold||English, Hebrew||"Same Heart"||14||19|
|2015||Nadav Guedj||English||"Golden Boy"||9||97||3||151|
|2016||Hovi Star||English||"Made of Stars"||14||135||7||147|
|2017||IMRI||English||"I Feel Alive"||23||39||3||207|
- a. ^ In 1996 Israel failed to qualify for the contest. There was an audio only pre-qualification round for all countries (excluding hosts Norway). The official Eurovision site does not count 1996 in Israel's list of appearances.
- b. If a country had won the previous year, they did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. In addition from 2004-2007, the top ten placed countries who were not one 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.
- c. ^ Spain originally gave its 12 points to Israel and 10 to Norway. After the broadcast it was announced that Spanish broadcaster wrongly tallied the votes and Germany should have got the top mark - 12 points - instead of being snubbed, as it happened. The mistake was corrected and so Germany was placed 7th over Norway. Israel and Norway both received 2 points less than originally and Croatia, Malta, Portugal, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia and Turkey all received one point less than indicated during the broadcast.
As of 2017, 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
- Table key
|Year||Artist||Language||Title||Final||Points||Semi||Points||Place (1998)||Points (1998)|
|1998||Dana International||Hebrew||"Diva (דיווה)"||Failed to qualify||13||39||1||172|
Hosts and presenters
|1979||Yoram Arbel||Dan Kaner|
|1980||No Broadcast||Israel did not participate|
|1981||No commentator||Dan Kaner|
|1984||Israel did not participate|
|1993||Daniel Pe'er||Danny Rup|
|1994||No commentator||Israel did not participate|
|1996||Israel did not participate|
|1998||No commentator||Yigal Ravid|
- 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