ISRAEL – Despite the controversial interview of Dana International to oikotimes.com, Israelis are extremely optimistic they will manage to win the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest this year celebrating the 40th anniversary from their first ever victory and the 20th anniversary from Dana’s victory in Birmingham, a victory which marked the beginning of a new era in the contest’s history.
Netta Barzilai is the woman who can make the Israeli dream true, as the fans and non-fans across Europe both admits that this song its a winning material no matter if they are having fun or laugh with the song, not understanding the message or whatever. The only obstacle for Israel is clearly the mentality and the strategy of the national juries in Eurovision, which wee all know how most of them work when they see a favourite. Let’s not forget how many juries plundered Russian entry in the 2016 Eurovision edition, ranking Sergey Lazarev as 26th although he was undoubtedly not deserving such a treatment, and caused him to loose the trophy despite winning the tele voting. Let’s also not forget that in 2015 Italy would have won Eurovision if the juries didn’t destroy the fans’ dream.
Netta performed last in the 2018 Israel Calling even at Rabin Square making 20,000+ attendants in the audience too shout out for her and sing along. But it wasn’t only that. When the show finished and the organisers walked us to the safe parking to depart from the venue, hundreds of fans spotted the delegations and stormed Netta asking for a selfie and autograph. The young singer is obmiouly not used to such publicity and pressure but weirdly she responded with professionalism and smile to all challenges of the evening. The police couldn’t manage to secure the premises for at least 30 minutes and we were all remained in the city hall lobby surrounded by frenetic fans waiting for Netta.
Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 40 times since making its debut in 1973. Israel was 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.
Barzilai was born on 22 January 1993 in Hod HaSharon, where she still lives. At an early age, she moved with her family to Nigeria where she lived for four years and eventually returned to Israel. Prior to her mandatory enlistment to the Israeli Defense Forces, she spent a Service Year volunteering in the Nahal and did her military service in the Israeli Navy Band.