Boaz Mauda, Israel's entry into the 53rd Eurovision contest Saturday night, was penalized by voters for being too normal - no robotic backup dancers, outlandish pompadour toupees, Owen Wilson-look alike ice skaters or S&M female backup singers. The Dana International-penned "The Fire in Your Eye" was just a nice, if slightly nondescript, pop offering, sung earnestly by Kohav Nolad winner Mauda, from Elyakim. The effort landed Israel in ninth place, ahead of 16 other entries in the contest in Belgrade. Israel last won the contest in 1998 when International sang "Diva." Thanks to an old Soviet bloc habit (or directive) of giving top points to neighboring countries, Russia easily won the song contest with Dima Bilan's insipid ballad "Believe," featuring Russian Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko skating around the singer as if he had crashed the performance. The show was viewed live across Europe to an estimated 100 million people - and reached a peak of 33.4% of Israeli viewers as well. As usual, the audience reveled in the kitschy costumes and arrangements and bad English by both the hosts and performers. And as usual, Cyprus voted for Greece, Portugal for Spain and Ireland for the UK. Israel needs to make peace quickly with Syria and Lebanon to get them in the contest along with Jordan and Egypt, so we can form our own Middle Eastern bloc.