Before Teapacks, there was Kojo
Eurovision threatens to bar Israeli song because it voices opposition to nukes.
Although Eurovision organizers are threatening to bar an Israeli song from this year's competition in May because it voices opposition to the use of nuclear weapons, Finland, which is hosting the event, was itself once represented by a melody with a similar anti-nuclear theme.
Teapacks, the band picked to represent Israel in Helsinki this year, recently ran into trouble with the contest's organizers, who expressed dismay that their song contains lyrics which appear to refer to Iran's controversial nuclear program and its stated goal of destroying the Jewish state.
"It's absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition," Kjell Ekholm, an organizer of the contest, told the Associated Press on March 2.
But in what could be an embarrassing turn for Eurovision producers, it turns out that host country Finland once sent its own anti-nuclear tune to take part in the contest.
In 1982, Finland was represented by a group called Kojo, whose song "Nuku Pommiin" lashed out at the threat posed to Europe by a potential nuclear attack, much as Teapacks's entry in this year's contest.
"If someone throws some nuclear poo here on our Europe," went the Finnish ballad, "What will you say when we get all the filth on our faces? If someone slings a bomb to your neck, you probably won't even notice," it reads.
"Now the gang's sitting, taking part in a negotiation," it continued. "If you don't wake up this time, you won't wake up at all."
The Finnish entry was composed during the Cold War, at a time when Europeans were protesting US plans to deploy ground-launched cruise missiles and Pershing II ballistic missiles in Western Europe to counter the Soviet threat. But despite its explicitly political message, the Finnish song was allowed to take part in the 1982 Eurovision contest, where it failed to receive any votes.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation announced that Palestinians will compete in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time next year, joining Israel among Middle Eastern participants.
The Jerusalem-based Sabreen Group will represent the Palestinian Authority in the competition in 2008, PBC Director Muhammad Dawoudi said. The broadcaster also said today it won approval to air the contest this year.
"This is a breakthrough for Palestinian media and Palestinian culture, and will have a positive impact not only in the Palestinian territories but all over the world," Dawoudi said by telephone from the Gaza Strip.
While the song contest was created by the European Broadcasting Union in 1956 as an attempt to foster unity in a continent divided into east and west after World War II, it hasn't always worked that way.
Serbia and Montenegro had to withdraw in 2006 after allegations of vote-rigging to allow a band from Montenegro to represent the country before Montenegro residents voted on independence.
The Eurovision contest is best known for launching the careers of performers such as Abba and Celine Dion. The 2005 final in the Ukraine was watched by more than 100 million viewers in 40 countries, three times the number who watched the final of American Idol, the biggest US television hit.
Sabreen fuses classical oriental Arabic music with jazz and rock and roll, according to its Web site. Dawoudi, who is based in the Gaza Strip, said he was invited to attend this year's competition in Helsinki but would probably not be able to make it because the border crossing with Egypt has been closed for security reasons.
Eurovision officials weren't available to confirm the agreement with the PBC.