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'Next time in Jerusalem': Israel's Eurovision win sparks backlash

Eurovision was first held in 1956 to unite Europe after World War Two [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 May, 2018

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While Netta Barzilai's victory sparked celebration in Israel, both her costume and references to Jerusalem caused controversy online.

Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon early on Sunday after singer Netta Barzilai beat 25 other contestants with her song "Toy", in a contest watched by more than 200 million people around the world.

The 25-year-old, who wore a multicoloured kimono, accompanied her winning performance with trills, clucking sounds and chicken-like dance moves in an eye-catching and bizarre performance that is often typical of the Eurovision contest.

"Next time in Jerusalem!" Barzilai shouted after being named the winner. "I'm so happy! Thank you for accepting differences between us. Thank you for celebrating diversity!"

Barzilai's victory sparked celebration in Israel, which has won the contest three other times, in 1978, 1979 and 1998.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu congratulated Barzilai by telephone, telling her she was "the best ambassador of Israel. We love you."

Eurovision was first held in 1956 with the aim of uniting Europe after World War Two. 

Israel is allowed to participate in the European competition because the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) is part of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which sponsors the competition.

Israel will now host the contest next year.

Political propaganda?

While Barzilai's victory sparked celebration in Israel, both her costume and references to Jerusalem caused controversy online.

Some social media users accused the singer of cultural appropriation for wearing a kimono dress and styling her hair up in up in two buns, while performing in front of Japanese maneki-neko cat figurines.

Others pointed out that Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip were at odds with the singer's message of acceptance and diversity.

At least 54 Palestinians have been killed since Gaza protests began on March 30 calling for the return of refugees to lands from which they were expelled or fled during Israel's establishment in 1948.

The Israeli singer's comment of "next time in Jerusalem" comes as the US prepares to move its Israeli embassy to the contested city on Monday.

The Trump administration announced the move last December, causing outrage worldwide and protests in Palestine in which at least 27 Palestinians were killed.

East Jerusalem is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law. Almost all countries in the world refuse to recognise it as Israel's capital and have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

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