Israel Agrees To Ask For Changes To Controversial Lyrics Of Its ‘October Rain’ Potential Eurovision Entry

Israel’s public broadcaster has reversed its previous stance and will request an alteration of lyrics to a song under consideration for this year’s Eurovision competition.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes Eurovision, was reportedly preparing to bar the song last week for breaking rules on political neutrality in song lyrics. Artist Eden Golan’s Israel entry, October Rain, contains what could be deemed references to Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

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Israeli broadcaster Kan, which will determine which song enters Eurovision for the country, pledged last week that it wouldn’t request any alteration of the lyrics. But Israel’s President Isaac Herzog today called for “necessary adjustments” to ensure Israel can enter the show.

Kan issued a statement on Sunday saying it had asked the lyricists of both songs under consideration to “readapt the texts, while preserving their artistic freedom.” It is also reportedly considering a song called Dance Forever.

President Herzog, Kan said, “emphasized that it is precisely at a time when those who hate us are seeking to repress and boycott the State of Israel,” and that the country “must raise its voice” in international forums.

A determination on which song Israel will submit will be confirmed next Sunday.

The original lyrics of October Rain – written in English – were published on Kan’s website last month.

They include the lines “They were all good children, every one of them” and “Who told you boys don’t cry/ Hours and hours/ And flowers/ Life is not a game for the cowards.”

The reference to flowers often denotes war fatalities, Israeli media noted.

Political messages have led to songs being banned in the past from Eurovision, such as Georgia’s 2009 entry.

Artists have called for Israel to be excluded from Eurovision this year over its Gaza treatment. These include artists in Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, with several pointing out that Russia has been disqualified since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Eurovision organizers say that the situations in Ukraine and Gaza are different.

Israel has won Eurovision four times. This year’s event will be held in Sweden in May.

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