Israel revises song lyrics to avoid disqualification from Eurovision

Original song entry ‘October Rain’ was rejected by EBU for ‘political’ lyrics that reference October 7 attacks


Israeli Eurovision entrant Eden Golan will be forced to change the lyrics to her song "October Rain," which EBU has rejected due to its "political" reference to the attacks of October 7.

Israel has agreed to revise the lyrics of its submission to the Eurovision Song Contest after organisers took issue with the “political” nature of the original song entry.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan, tasked with selecting the nation’s entry for the competition, said on Sunday that it will comply with the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) request to make changes to lyrics in “October Rain” which EBU has disputed for its alleged reference to the October 7 attacks.

The song, performed by Russian-Israeli singer and Israel’s 2024 Eurovision entrant Eden Golan, included the lines: “There’s no air left to breathe / There is no place for me” and “They were all good children, each one of them,” which have been understood as a reference to those killed by Hamas on October 7. The lyrics also refer to “flowers,” a term that is often used in Israel as military code for war casualties.

"Dancing in the storm / We've got nothing to hide,” sings Golan. "Take me home / And leave the world behind / And I promise this will never happen again / I'm still wet from this October rain / October rain.”

The runner-up song choice “Dance Forever” was reportedly also rejected by EBU, forcing Kan to select a third song for submission by the deadline, next week. While Kan initially pushed back against EBU’s decision, the Israeli broadcaster said in a statement on Sunday that it agreed to make changes to the original song submission following a request from the president, Isaac Herzog.

"The president emphasised that at this time in particular, when those who hate us seek to push aside and boycott the state of Israel from every stage, Israel must sound its voice with pride and its head high and raise its flag in every world forum, especially this year," Kan said.

According to authorities at Kan, an updated version of “October Rain,” retitled “Hurricane,” has been submitted as Israel’s latest entry for the song contest.

Israeli Culture Minister Miki Zohar called EBU’s rejection of the original lyrics “scandalous,” writing on Twitter that “October Rain” is “a moving song, which expresses the feelings of the people and the country these days and is not political."

“We all hope that Eurovision will remain a musical and cultural event and not a political arena - where the participating countries can bring their uniqueness and nationalism to the stage through music,” said Zohar. “I call on the European Broadcasting Union to continue to act professionally and neutrally, and not to let politics affect art.”

The contest, due to take place in Malmo, Sweden from 7-11 May, is billed as a non-political event. Earlier in the year EBU rejected calls to disqualify Israel from participating in the contest due to the war in Gaza and activists in Finland, Iceland and Sweden since intensified calls for a boycott of Eurovision if Israel is not barred from competing.

In a statement to the JC, a spokesperson for EBU said: “The EBU and KAN are still in the process of discussing their entry and that remains a confidential process until a final decision has been reached. All broadcasters have until 11 March to formally submit their entries for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.”

The news comes just two days after Bashar Murad, a Palestinian singer from East Jerusalem, narrowly missed his chance at becoming Iceland’s entrant for Eurovision when he lost Söngvakeppnin, the Icelandic competition to select the country’s representative, on Saturday.

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