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Avidan Freedman
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Bambie Thug vs. Eden Golan: A metaphor?

In the battle between good and evil, these two Eurovision contestants were a little too on the nose - until you realize their contrast was not scripted
Composite of Bambie Thug and Eden Golan, from Eurovision, May 2024. (both images via X, formerly Twitter)
Composite of Bambie Thug and Eden Golan, from Eurovision, May 2024. (both images via X, formerly Twitter)

Bambie Thug vs. Eden Golan. Sometimes, life serves up its metaphors with an awkwardly heavy hand. If it were a movie, you might feel like the screenwriters could have been more subtle and still gotten the message across. Okay, we get it. One’s screaming, angry, all in black, the other smiling, gentle, bathed in white. Did you really need to add the pentagram and demonic henchman so that we’d know we’re talking about a battle of good vs. evil?  At the very least, give them more credible names. Thug? Eden? Why the need to insult the viewer’s intelligence?

But this is real life, which makes you wonder if someone isn’t getting  frustrated that we’re just not getting the message, and decided to spell it out for us like we’re 4-year-olds watching a Disney movie. And like in a kid’s movie, there are some nuances that only a more sophisticated ear will pick up on. Like the fact that when you think about their whole names, they actually both contain the very same paradox. Their first names evoke gentleness. Their last names evoke power. But what’s really fascinating is how they give opposite expressions to this paradox in real life.

Thugs are bullies on the outside. They project brute power, they’re intimidating and scary, even demonic. They dominate, they scream “love” and exude palpable hate. But scratch the surface of your average bully, and you’ll find a fragile, frightened Bambie, whose bravado is a façade to cover up a deep feeling of vulnerability. Bambie Thug is an intimidating sight to see on stage, but in interviews, the façade shatters like an egg-shell, and the slightest hint of criticism is experienced as a threat that makes you breakdown in tears.

Eden is just the opposite. Pleasant, smiling, angelic and vulnerable on the outside, with a core as quietly powerful as the Golan Heights. She is able to face down the boos of a belligerent audience, and the criticism of a biased jury, draw strength from it, and shine forth real, authentic love that has the power to instantly capture the hearts of millions. And while her dancers hauntingly evoke the indescribable atrocities that Hamas committed, she has no need to scream. She can look evil in the eye, survive, smile, and still sing of hope.

Eden is a model of a new kind of a sabra, a reverse sabra. She doesn’t need to hide her goodness with prickles on the outside. Her insides have the strength of iron smelted in the furnace of pain and loss; she is not afraid of her humanity. She can embrace her vulnerability, as she embraces humaneness. And love.

Is it naïve to consider that Eden Golan should be our new model for victory? An alternative to the voices that say that the only way to complete victory is complete destruction? That the only way to win is beat them at their own game, to play by their rules, to be just as harsh, and brutal, and thuggish as our enemies? A new way for us to embrace and be proud of our goodness and humaneness, confident as we are in a core that has again and again proven itself indestructible in the last seven months?

Is it too fanciful to suggest that much of the world acts like a Bambie Thug, covering up their own existential fears for their identity and their survival by violently bullying others, and then playing the victim card?

I don’t know. But I wonder if our happy ending might depend on us getting the messages that we’re being sent.

About the Author
Avidan Freedman is the co-founder and director of Yanshoof (www.yanshoof.org), an organization dedicated to stopping Israeli arms sales to human rights violators, and an educator at the Shalom Hartman Institute's high school and post-high school programs. He lives in Efrat with his wife Devorah and their 5 children.
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