Danny Hakim

Euro(di)vision: The Power of Music to Unite or Divide

Eden Golan delivers a captivating performance of "Hurricane" at the Eurovision Grand Final, Malmö Arena. (Photo by Sarah Louise Bennett / EBU)
Eden Golan delivers a captivating performance of "Hurricane" at the Eurovision Grand Final, Malmö Arena. Photo by Sarah Louise Bennett / EBU

In a world divided by conflicts and cultural clashes, music emerges as a beacon of hope, transcending barriers to entertain, inspire, heal, and bring people together. This year, Eurovision highlighted this transformative influence through Israel’s entry, “Hurricane” by Eden Golan—a powerful anthem of resilience and connection. How can a single melody not only captivate our hearts but also bridge the divides that separate us, fostering understanding in such a complex world?

The Impact of Terrorism on Cultural Events

Over the past two decades, the global music community has confronted a heart-wrenching reality. Concert halls and festivals, once sanctuaries of joy and creativity, have been transformed into scenes of unimaginable horror by a series of devastating terrorist attacks, claiming 922 lives. These tragic events turn celebrations of art and culture into memorials for lost souls.

Recently, the situation has escalated. In less than a year, we’ve seen 503 lives lost, 44 individuals taken hostage, and over 5,000 people left to nurse both visible and invisible scars. Each number is not just a statistic but represents a person—a friend, a family member, a loved one—leaving behind a void that can never be filled.

2017 Manchester Arena Bombing- 22 killed, over 1000 injured / CC BY-SA 4.0

The accompanying graph starkly remind us of the precious lives lost and the pervasive impact of these violent acts on communities worldwide.

Terror attacks on music festivals

2023 Nova Dance party , Israel : 360 people killed and over thousand injured (Courtesy of the Photographer)
2024 Moscow Crocus Hall massacre – 133 killed, 145 injured (Courtesy)
2001 Bali Bomb memorial, 202 killed – 84 were Australian – Sydney Bondi Beach (Courtesy)

These events have transformed places of joy into targets of violence, emphasizing the urgent need for a cultural response that promotes harmony and solidarity. In this context, Eden Golan’s “Hurricane” emerges as a powerful anthem of resilience and peace, symbolizing strong cultural resistance to violence and division. The song reflects the challenges faced by the music community and inspires a collective movement toward rebuilding and solidarity.

Challenges on Campus

The endorsement of extremist activities by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, celebrating acts of violence and hailing the October 7 massacre as a “historic win,” starkly contrasts with the unifying message of “Hurricane.” Such support for extremism poses significant challenges to the safety and inclusiveness of academic settings, distorting historic truths and perpetuating harmful stereotypes in a climate of hostility.

The Power of Performing Art and Music

In a world riven by conflict, could art be our most powerful peacemaker? The dual influence of art is vividly illustrated as popular culture blurs the lines between political discourse and personal attacks. Macklemore, whose hit “Thrift Shop” has nearly two billion views on YouTube, recently voiced support for pro-Hamas protests on American campuses with his new song “Hind’s Hall.” Released on his Instagram, this track not only supports violent protests but also infuses the narrative with words many consider hateful and threatening to their sense of security. The artist’s message, while drawing significant attention, also reinforces harmful stereotypes and generalizations that fuel antisemitism.

Despite these obstacles, the healing power of songs remains undeniable. It is in this complex landscape that the Grammy Awards sought to reaffirm music’s essential role as a connector. During the 2024 Grammy Awards, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. reminded us of this role. Referring to the Nova music festival massacre, he articulated a poignant vision:

“Music must always be our safe space. When violated, it cuts deep into our essence. We live in a world riven by divisions… Music must remain the common ground where we all stand, in peace and harmony.”

Euro-Blindness Amid Controversy

As global disputes intensify and calls to suspend Eden Golan’s “Hurricane” from the Eurovision Song Contest grew louder, Israel’s participation in the 2024 event stands as a profound testament to cultural resilience and perseverance. “Hurricane” not only received the second-highest audience vote worldwide but also secured 5th place overall. This outcome is particularly significant given attempts by many teams to get Israel banned from the competition. While the British judges gave zero mark to Israel the British audience and 13 other countries gave Israel the full 12 marks. Perhaps the British audience has a better memory of the victims of the Ariana Grande Manchester massacre than their judges.

Manchester Arena Bombing- 22 killed, over 1000 injured (courtesy)

At the heart of “Hurricane” are the Hebrew lyrics, “No need for big words, only prayers, even if it’s hard to see you always leave me one small light.” These lines beautifully capture Eurovision’s goal, offering more than just hope—they paint a picture of unity and light, showing how music can become a refuge during challenging times. This accomplishment highlights the song’s impactful message and its ability to connect with diverse audiences around the world, acknowledging not only Israel’s cultural contribution but also its popular support amidst global controversy.

Beyond the Music: A Call for Unity

Eurovision goes beyond just showcasing global musical talent; it acts as a crucial bridge for cultural unity. Driven by the theme ‘United by Music,’ the contest serves as a robust platform for healing and coming together. Eden Golan’s “Hurricane” embodies resilience, reflecting the contest’s aim to transcend cultural and ideological gaps. By bringing artists who share deep truths and common experiences, Eurovision not only motivates but also sparks significant change, proving that music has a unique ability to connect people across different cultures.

The heartfelt lyric, “Dancing in the storm, I got nothing to hide,” encourages us to face our challenges openly and with bravery. Let’s all find the rhythm and momentum to move forward together, confirming ‘United by Music’ as a transformative force for worldwide harmony.

About the Author
Danny Hakim OAM is a 2 times world karate silver medalist and holds a 7th-degree black belt from Japan. He is the founder of Budo for Peace and chairman of Sport for Social Change. He is a board member of The Azrieli foundation, MWU ( Maccabi World Union), ALLMEP (the Alliance of Middle East peace), and Kids Kicking Cancer. In 2017 he was inducted into the Australian Maccabi Hall of Fame, and in 2019 was the recipient of the Bonei Zion award for Culture, Art, and Sport. In January 2022, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to the international community.
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