ISRAEL – Fell Sunday after Israel’s historic victory for the second time in a row at the Eurovision Song Contest. Shimon Shiffer, who was then the Israeli radio’s diplomatic correspondent, had touted a morning report that the Israeli government was to declare “Hallelujah”, a song performed by Gali Atari and Milk and Honey, which had given Israel its second Eurovision Song, the country’s new national anthem instead of “Hatikvah” that day. It was the perfect Fake News; no one doubted the veracity of the article. When Prime Minister Menachem Begin himself announced at a cabinet meeting that he knew absolutely nothing about what the report was referring to, they withdrew the joke of the April Fool’s Day fish.
A few days before the joke, Tuesday, March 26 – 40 years ago – Israel signed its peace treaty with Egypt. It was a Monday and the rest of the world reported with astonishment the euphoric atmosphere of Israel as the country was preparing for the song contest to be held Saturday in Jerusalem. There was a feeling that the moving song and its lyrics – “Hallelujah for what was and what remains to be” – accurately reflected the national mood. No song or country could win the home win against the Israel Convention Center (then known as Binyanei Hauma) this weekend.
A year earlier, Israel had been surprised when “A-Ba-Ni-Bi”, the nightclub hit by Ehud Manor and Nurit Hirsch about children singing in a Hebrew Latin, won in Paris and took away the # 39, Eurovision in Jerusalem. Izhar Cohen surpassed the romantic Belgian and French ballads, as well as the discotheque of the popular Luxembourgish duo Baccara.
In 1979, Israelis felt like they deserved it, but it was not a picnic. That year, many successes remained popular: “Dschinghis Khan”, “Sokrati” and “Disco Tango”. Surprisingly, Betty Missiego, a Spaniard, and her back-up singing children competed for first place with “Su Cancion”. Song “), while both songs have come out ahead in one of the most fascinating votes to date. “Su Cancion” was still in the lead when Spain voted. Unable to vote for his own song, he gave Israel 10 points and victory, leaving the Spanish entry in second place.
Much has been said about the evolution of “Hallelujah”, the song that Hakol group Over Habibi and singer Yardena Arazi rejected as unworthy of a contest. After the rejection, Kobi Oshrat reunited Milk and Honey, filled with braces, with Atari. Oshrat, the composer of the song, believed it more than any other song written by himself and the lyricist Shimrit Orr. Atari with milk and honey worked wonderfully, was beautiful and the karma was wonderful – maybe they received help thanks to the word’s origin in prayer.
“Hallelujah” is still considered the most successful Israeli song in history, in terms of sales volume, number of plays, performances and covers (more than 200). In the annals of Eurovision, he is the second after “Waterloo,” who introduced Abba to the world. Since then, he has regularly made the country’s charts, played in virtually every national and governmental event, and we chose him to end the 1999 contest with a show from all the country’s representatives.
But to repeat this success was not easy. The band and Gali Atari, a singer already well known in the country, who had insisted from the beginning to call himself Gali Atari with Milk and Honey, had some songs together. “Goodbye New York”, abroad, less than a year after “Hallelujah’s” victory, Atrai felt the project hindered him in his solo career and the group split up. Why? It depends on which side you take part in the rather ugly process that followed. Leah Lupatin replaced her and led the group for a few more years, but the public case resulted in an intense and long-standing financial conflict. Success has many fathers, including producer Shlomo Zach and his partners. They sued Oshrat, Atari sued everyone, which resulted in complications. The story ended with a mediation barely ten years ago, 30 years after the victory of Eurovision.
REPRODUCED BY HAARETZ.COM