Israel gets top public vote from 14 countries in Eurovision – plus ‘rest of the world’
MusicActivists had tried to bar Israel from the contest

Israel gets top public vote from 14 countries in Eurovision – plus ‘rest of the world’

Voters in Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK give highest points to Eden Golan

Eden Golan (Photo by Haim Zach / Government Press Office of Israel via Wikipedia)
Eden Golan (Photo by Haim Zach / Government Press Office of Israel via Wikipedia)

Switzerland may have taken the crown, and Croatia narrowly won the popular vote, but Israel received top points in the televote from the highest number of countries — including the “rest of the world” — at the 2024 Eurovision on Saturday night.

After months of calls for Israel to be banned from the international song contest, voters in 14 different countries — out of 37 that were eligible to vote — plus those in all non-participating nations as a group, handed the most possible points, 12, to the Jewish state. Overall, Israel’s Eden Golan finished fifth out of the 25 competitors in the Eurovision grand final this year.

Ultimately, Israel got top marks from voters in Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, plus the “rest of the world” aggregate. It also got 10 points, the second-highest possible, from Albania, Austria, Cyprus, Czechia, Moldova, Slovenia and even Ireland, considered by many to be one of the most anti-Israel countries in Europe.

Overall, Israel received 323 televote points, just behind Croatia’s 337 points, and ahead of Ukraine’s 307 points from the public. Croatia got top marks from nine countries and Ukraine from seven.

Israel did notably less well in the jury votes, in which each country presents the results of a group of musical professionals. It got just 52 points there, 12th overall, prompting some Israelis to decry the snub as political. Still, the country ended up with more jury points than the UK, Greece, Latvia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Serbia, Spain, Austria, Georgia, Slovenia, Norway, Finland and Estonia.

There is often a gap between the juries’ picks and those of the public, which has led to much debate among fans over the years about abolishing the professional jury vote. Widespread televoting only came into use in 1998, when technological advances made it possible to tally them up quickly, and online voting was introduced later. This year, for example, the UK ranked 13th in the jury vote and yet received zero total points in the televote, leaving it in 18th place overall.

In terms of Israel’s own voting, both the public and the jury gave top marks, 12 points, to Luxembourg, which was represented this year by the Israeli-born Tali — one of the few contestants who agreed to be seen publicly with Golan. Israeli voters then gave 10 points to Ukraine, eight to Germany, seven to Italy, six to Armenia, five to Croatia, four to Georgia, three to Austria, two to France and one to Cyprus.

In the semifinal rounds, where only the televote is used to determine who advances, Israel received the most points overall on Thursday night, just edging out the Netherlands — a fan favorite which was later disqualified after its contestant, Joost Klein, was involved in a threatening incident backstage with a camerawoman.

Israel’s huge televote success came as an unwelcome surprise to the activists who had been trying for months to unsuccessfully have the country barred from the contest. During the jury vote awarding portion of the competition, Israel’s representative, Maya Alkulumbre, was loudly booed by some in the audience, and some even booed each time any country awarded any points to Israel.

How did the country considered a pariah by so many over its ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza end up so popular? There’s no real way to analyze the motivations of millions of voters — and the European Broadcasting Union doesn’t reveal how many people voted — but a few trends are clear to see.

The most obvious is that the loudest voices on the internet do not necessarily represent either the overall majority or the majority of those who decide to vote in a song contest. Months of frantic hysteria on social media and Reddit forums clearly do not translate to real-life votes.

Those same corners of the internet have of course blamed a global Zionist conspiracy for the televote results. The truth is that there was obviously an organized, dedicated effort by Israel supporters to give their votes to Golan in the face of intense threats and hatred, and it clearly drew votes from many who don’t otherwise tune into the Eurovision each year.

It is also much easier to vote in support of a country than against it — if anti-Israel activists didn’t rally around one particular contestant, and especially if they boycotted the vote, then their sentiments were not going to be counted.

Golan and Israel also ironically received a boycott boost — all the attention and media coverage of the controversy provided a much higher level of exposure to the song than in normal years. Some voters were also likely part of the backlash of those turned off by the pariah treatment given to the 20-year-old Golan by fans, Eurovision bloggers and even her fellow contestants.

And none of this should discount the fact that some votes were not political at all, and based, in fact, on music. Few could deny that Golan was a vocal powerhouse, whose live performances sounded almost identical to the studio recording. “Hurricane” was also one of the few power ballads of the evening, standing out amid a sea of upbeat pop tunes and folk-tinged songs.

Golan touched down in Israel on Sunday morning, just a few hours after competing, and expressed her gratitude to all those who supported her.

“Thank you to the whole country and the people who stood behind me, and I felt your love and support — you don’t know how much it helped me and gave me strength,” she said in comments shortly after deplaning.

“I represented the country and was our voice for everyone who needs to be brought home now,” she said, referring to the hostages held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The singer also made a special mention to the “security services who kept us safe” during the delegation’s two weeks in Malmo ahead of the contest, amid an elevated threat level.

Golan was largely confined to her hotel room for the weeks leading up to the show, skipping virtually all events surrounding the contest except for the live shows and dress rehearsals, due to a high threat level against her and the delegation. PJC

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