The annual pre-Eurovision competition, which determines the singer and the song
that will represent Israel at the annual Eurovision Song Contest, begins tonight
on Channel One at 9:30 p.m..
The event, which will be hosted by actor Aki
Avni together with Shiri Maymon, who represented Israel at the 2005 Eurovision
contest, will take place at the Rishon Lezion cultural center and will be
broadcast live on Channel One and Reshet Gimmel, as well as on eurovil, the
official Israel Eurovision Internet site, which gives information about all the
contestants in Hebrew, as well as updates in English about what is happening
Eurovision- wise in other competing countries.
Among the contestants is
former Eurovision winner Dana International, who won in Birmingham in 1998 with
the song “Diva” composed by Zvika Pick, with lyrics by Yoav Ginai. This time she
will be singing a song called “Ding Dong” She had previously competed in a
pre-Eurovision contest in 1995 and had been ranked in second
Although she did not personally compete in the 2008 Eurovision
contest, she wrote a song for Boaz Mauda who represented Israel.
has triumphed at Eurovision on three occasions. The first was in 1978 in Paris
when Izhar Cohen won with “Aba Nibi,” composed by Nurit Hirsh with lyrics by
Ehud Manor. Israel won again in Jerusalem in 1979 when Gali Atari, backed by
Milk and Honey, performed “Hallelujah” composed by Kobi Oshrat with lyrics by
Shimrit Orr. Jerusalem has twice hosted Eurovision and hopefully may do so
again. With their joint determination to make Jerusalem the focal point of
Middle East tourism, Mayor Nir Barkat and Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov
would be ecstatic if Israel won this year’s contest, making Jerusalem a
Of the 23 countries that have won Eurovision contests
over the years, Ireland is ahead with seven wins, followed by France, Luxembourg
and the United Kingdom, with five wins each.
In the past, Israel has sent
some of its top singers to Eurovision. Shlomo Artzi in 1975 did not do well. In
1983, Ofra Haza came second with “Chai.” In 1985, Izhar Cohen represented Israel
for a second time but ranked fifth in the final score. In 1990, Rita made it to
only 18th place, which may have some kind of Jewish symbolism attached to it but
was accompanied by considerable criticism in the Israeli media.
following year, Datz and Datza with the catchy patriotic song “Kaan Noladiti”
(This Is Where I Was Born), came third. Yardena Arazi, who was a Eurovision
co-host in Jerusalem, also competed in Dublin in 1988 and was voted into seventh
place. In other years, Sarit Hadad, David D’Or and Kobi Oz with Teapacks did not
fare as well.
The winner of tonight’s finals will compete in the
semi-finals in Dusseldorf on May 12, two days after Israel Independence
Eurovision, which is one of the longest-running and most widely
watched television shows in the world, was inaugurated on May 24, 1956. When
Israeli singers who are considered to be icons at home do poorly at Eurovision,
there is often a hue and cry about politics influencing the vote. Zvika
Pick, who has composed several melodies for the contest and who has often
accompanied the Israeli delegation, discounts such allegations. In a
recent interview on Channel One, Pick said that politics had nothing do with the
outcome. “All you need is a good song,” he said.