Israel Chooses a Eurovision Act as Boycott Campaigns Swirl

The singing contest’s glitzy lights and glittering dresses were supposed to be a respite after another depressing, hostage-filled news day on Israeli TV.

Yet a somber mood hung over the finale of “Rising Star,” the show that selects Israel’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest, as it pitted four young pop singers against one another on Tuesday night.

This year’s winner, Eden Golan, 20, dedicated her performance of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith to the more than 100 Israeli hostages still held in Gaza. “We won’t truly be OK until everyone returns home,” she said.

As the victor, Golan will travel to Malmo, Sweden, in May to represent her country in Eurovision, a high-camp spectacle watched by tens of millions and decided, in part, by a public vote. It is not an obvious proxy for war. But as the civilian death toll in Gaza has mounted, there have been growing calls for Israel to be banned from this year’s event.

Several prominent, artist-led campaigns argue that recent decisions to exclude Russia and Belarus set a precedent, and that Israel should be banned for human-rights violations. Eurovision officials reject those comparisons, but when Golan performs in Malmo, it seems certain that many voters will be thinking about more than just her singing.

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