Fresh from being crowned the winner of 2018’s Eurovision song contest, 25 year old Israeli delegate Netta Bazilai proudly proclaimed “Thank you for choosing diversity” followed shortly thereafter with “I love my country!”, to the audience and millions watching at home. This marks the first time in 20 years, with Dana International’s song “Diva”, that Israel has won the event.
Thousands of late-night revelers spontaneously burst out into Rabin Square in the heart of Tel Aviv to celebrate the monumental win. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the singer, by repeating part of Netta’s acceptance speech with, “Next Year in Jerusalem!” (a phrase said annually out loud at the end of the Passover seder).
Eurovision has an estimated global audience of close to 200 million people — making one of the largest televised events globally, outranking the Superbowl. The price tag for hosting such an event can be steep, reaching figures close to $50 million, but that does not seem to have worried Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was quick to congratulate Barzilai and thanked her for placing Jerusalem as the host city next year.
— Mayor Nir Barkat (@NirBarkat) May 13, 2018
“The city of Jerusalem will grant any help needed in putting up Eurovision 2019 in the capital of Israel and together we will expose the beautiful face of Jerusalem to the whole world,” he said.
BDS activists were quick to protest Israel’s win, and have already began campaigning to block the competition from occurring next year in Jerusalem. The Facebook page “Eurovision boycott of Israel – ZERO points to the song of Israeli Apartheid” promised to conduct a campaign against the Jewish state leading up to the 2019 contest in Jerusalem.
“Thanks to everyone for raising awareness of the occupation and apartheid practiced by our country, Israel!” the page wrote after Israel’s win. “We now have a year to show the true face of Israeli apartheid, and Jerusalem is a prime example. Stay tuned for a big campaign!”
Pro-Israel supporters were quick to reply, with J.K. Rowling posting “Well done #Israel #Eurovision Worthy winner”.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 12, 2018