Eurovision fever has hit Israel, and it’s hit hard.
Millions of shekels, hundreds of guest singers and their entourages, tens of millions of viewers in what must be the largest talent show around. Let me rephrase: Some have talent. Others seem to be in it for the fun, which is okay too, I guess. Let’s be real, we’re not talking the summit of the century to find peace in the Middle East. Or are we?
Madonna’s coming, she’s not coming… and she is here. In the flesh. On stage to celebrate Eurovision in Tel Aviv, despite political pressure by anti-Israel haters. She says she won’t let politics stop her from sharing her music. But there’s more to it, judging by her choice of the Hebrew name Esther and her kabbalist involvement; she’s certainly closely identified with the Jewish people, if not one of us.
The main show is Saturday evening, not in time to allow many Sabbath-observant Jews from attending. But that’s okay; tickets were at a premium and we’ll have our own Eurovision party at home instead, with friends and family, hooting out loud at the crazy acts and cheering on the beautiful ballads – a mainstay of this year, they say.
Will we win and host again next year? I hope not. With the political backlash of not holding the show in Jerusalem, our capital city, who needs it. With all the complaints and calls to boycott singing on an Israeli stage, I’d rather not. I hate to rain on the party but a proud Israel is a strong Israel. If we bend to pressure, it might make sense in the short run, but I’d rather not be faced with demands to change our story, to hide our heritage and to shame our pride. I doubt another country would have bowed, perhaps we are used to being pressured but no more. After all, we are ‘not your toy’.
With Netanyahu putting the final touches on his new government, and the people of Israel united around themes of IDF Remembrance day and our own 71st Independence celebrations, I’m all for national pride. The real kind.
So cheer like crazy for your favorite country, wave that blue and white flag when it’s our turn, and enjoy all the little ditties in between songs, with every delegation filmed on the backdrop of another part of our beautiful, rich, varied homeland. I hope the walls of Jerusalem figure somewhere in those videos as well. I’m not the one who brought politics to Eurovision, but if it’s already there, we might as well be honest about who we are as a country and be proud of our ancient roots, whatever our nay-sayers think.
I’ll be watching from the hills of Jerusalem.