Israeli envoy, Netta welcomed at Romanian pre-Eurovision show

Musician Brian Eno echoes call to boycott song contest in Tel Aviv.

February 18, 2019 16:16
2 minute read.
Netta Barzilai performs at the Romanian Eurovision selection finale on Sunday night

Netta Barzilai performs at the Romanian Eurovision selection finale on Sunday night. (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/TVR)


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Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai and Israeli Ambassador to Romania David Saranga both appeared Sunday evening during the finals of the country’s Eurovision selection competition.

“All of Israel went crazy after we won the Eurovision,” Saranga told the host during the live show broadcast on Romania’s public TVR network. “I was with my friends in Tel Aviv and I said, ‘if Netta wins, I will go to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and jump in the fountain.’ That night, everyone was there – the city was full of those celebrating until early in the morning.”
Saranga appeared on the show after Barzilai herself took the stage and performed her Eurovision-winning song “Toy,” as well as her latest hit, “Bassa Sababa.”

And Saranga and Barzilai weren’t even the only Israelis with a presence at the Romanian national final this weekend. Tali Eshkoli, a longtime Eurovision producer who is also involved in the 2019 show, was on the jury that helped pick Ester Peony and the song “On a Sunday” to represent Romania this year.

“It’s such a huge pleasure [to be here] after our mega, super, ultra Netta won Eurovision last year,” Eshkoli said. “Thank you for the wonderful show – it’s really a huge challenge to choose who will represent Romania in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in sunny Tel Aviv.”


Barzilai has been appearing at many of the Eurovision selection competitions around Europe in the past few weeks. She showed up on the finale of Hakochav Haba in Israel last week, as well as on the show’s counterparts in the UK and France. When Barzilai appeared in Paris last month on the live show, she was interrupted on stage by a small group of protesters calling for a boycott of the competition.

With just under three months until the Eurovision kicks off in Tel Aviv, calls to boycott the show – though largely ignored – have continued to appear.

On Monday, musician Brian Eno published a letter in The Guardian calling for the show to be moved from Tel Aviv and for England’s contestant, Michael Rice, to campaign for such a movement.

“When [Rice] believes ‘it’s not my place to say’ whether Israeli treatment of the Palestinians means Eurovision should be relocated, I think he’s underestimating his power,” Eno wrote, echoing a similar letter in The Guardian last month. “He could help to ensure that Eurovision 2019 will be remembered as an occasion of principled protest, not another episode of cultural whitewashing.”

Any political expressions during performances are explicitly forbidden by Eurovision organizers.

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