Eden Golan’s shock progression to Eurovision final greeted with fury and delight

The Israeli singer performed against a backdrop of protests and death threats


Eden Golan celebrates after qualifying for the Eurovision final on Thursday night (Photo: Getty)

The progression last night of Israel’s Eurovision entry Eden Golan to the song contest’s final on Saturday was greeted with both fury and delight, with shock perhaps the one emotion the performer’s detractors and supporters held in common.

Golan, 20, succeeded in qualifying at yesterday’s second semi-final to perform her song, “Hurricane” – which reflects on the Hamas Nova massacre of October 7 – at the main event this weekend against a backdrop of vitriolic protesting against Israel’s participation in the event, being staged in Malmo, Sweden.

The singer, who has been subjected to death threats and warned to remain in her hotel room at all times during her stay in Sweden other than for official Eurovision business, has seen off furious opposition in the form of anti-Israel street protests – the latest of which attracted Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has more recently turned her attention to campaigning against Israel’s war on Hamas – and a bombardment of online threats and abuse.

Such is the level of hatred being directed at Golan, the head of Shin Bet himself is said to have personally overseen the security arrangements for the singer in Sweden.

Ronen Bar, the director of the Israeli security agency, reportedly flew to Malmo before the competition began to implement the tightest possible security for Golan and the Israeli delegation there.

“Eden Golan, along with the entire delegation, are being guarded by the local Swedish police and by Shin Bet,” an unnamed source told the Daily Telegraph.

"She and the whole delegation are very well protected in their hotel. She is not to leave the hotel.

"The head of Shin Bet even flew there ahead of the event to make sure everything was in place. They knew this was going to be a flashpoint.

"It's incredible that in the middle of a war, Shin Bet's head felt the need to go to Malmo because of the safety fears."

Golan was booed by spectators during her dress rehearsal on Wednesday, and ahead of her semi-final performance last night thousands of anti-Israel protesters gathered to demonstrate against the inclusion of the Jewish state in the competition due to the Gaza war.

Thunberg was one of around 12,000 demonstrators to turn out, according to Swedish police.

There was, Thunberg insisted, a "moral obligation to act" and oppose Israel's military operation in Gaza.

"If we are tens of thousands of people flooding the streets of Malmo when Eurovision is taking place, saying we will not accept this to continue, then it's a very strong signal – and it does make a difference," she told the BBC.

A smaller demonstration in support of Golan also took place.

The online reaction to Golan’s success was typically polarised. 

One post on X/Twitter retweeted thousads of times poured scorn on Eurovision and the European Broadcasting Union, stating: “If Israel wins this, Eurovision is dead, completely. Buried. It's beyond disrepute now. @EBU_HQ @Eurovision you are siding with a country that excuses the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, giving them a platform to lie, and dismiss all those lives lost. shame on you.”

Another popular post, which falsely stated Israel was carrying out “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza, commented on this year’s Eurovision theme, “United By Music”, saying: “Yeah let’s just ignore that you’re promoting a country engaged in Ethic cleansing [sic].”

But other users celebrated Golan’s achievement, with one stating: “Eden Golan reminds us of something easy to forget amid all the anti-Israel hysteria: Hundreds of millions of Europeans like Israel and hate Hamas. They don't protest, but they text, and in Eurovision you can only vote ‘for’, not ‘against’. The song is also great. She might win.”

The National Jewish Assembly posted: “Eden, you absolutely smashed it! You were incredible. You did all of us so proud, well done!”

Speaking to the JC ahead of the semi-final, Golan said she was "overwhelmed by different emotions” as she prepared to take to the international stage and become the face onto which the world’s anti-Israel activists could project their anger and opposition to the country’s military decisions.

Commenting on her fellow Eurovision acts, she said: “I have only met a few of the other contestants and they were super kind, really nice.

“I am excited to meet more of them. I hadn’t had any nasty comments — or at least not to my face.

“I try not to get into [the backlash to Israel’s participation] because I believe in good energy and good people. I am focusing on the huge amount of support I have had. Being united by music is the slogan of Eurovision and I have people from around the world sending me messages of love and support and that is all I am focusing on.”

She added: “I am not blinded or delusional about the hatred but I do genuinely believe that music unites — I have experienced it. I get messages from people of different opinions but they’ve connected to the music and the song and the singing.

On her chances of winning on Saturday, she said: “I don’t have super-high expectations, but I believe I have a great song and anything is possible.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive