On May 12th the annual Eurovision competition was held in Portugal, with the winner being the State of Israel.
The weeks prior to competition the Israeli public and the media were all highly excited, hoping for a win to the small Middle-Eastern country.
When I asked my British fiancé to vote for Israel, he replied “Why is it so important? I don’t care if the UK wins or not.”
“Of course you don’t care, because your country is a well-respected powerful nation” I first hesitated, and then answered. Moments after, I started thinking deeply about this question, and realized that the answer is much longer and complex.
When Israel’s win was officially announced, the Israeli public was filled with national pride and started celebrating.
“I could hear the cheering on the streets all night long!” Wrote one of my Facebook friends on her status. There were newspapers with headlines such as “thousands of Israelis fill the streets to celebrate Eurovision win.”
So, why? Why was it so important for Israelis to win this competition?
The answer to this questions is composed of Israel’s history, national identity, and of course, Israel’s status in the international political arena.
Israel is a small Jewish Middle-Eastern country surrounded by hostile Muslim countries. Israel’s military and political actions are also being judged and criticized daily in the international arena. Israel is a country whose right to exist has been questioned by hostile countries around the world.
Therefore, for a country like Israel, international acceptance has become a high priority.
The Israeli public wants to feel belonged to the international community. With the Eurovision votes from the public, Israel has received just that- acceptance.
Winning the competition has granted Israel with national pride; Standing tall against Europe as the Eurovision winner.
Especially in times like these, right before the United States has officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem, it has given Israel another reason to be proud and celebrate.
But also, precisely because of that, it was important for Israel to win; Winning for Israel meant that next year the Eurovision will be held in Jerusalem, its eternal capital that just got recognized as its capital by one of the world’s most powerful countries.
Indeed, next year, Israel will be hosting the competition in Jerusalem, for the fourth time in history. This will only strengthen Jerusalem’s position as its capital in the international arena. Therefore, the Eurovision win could not have come in a better time for Israel.
For Israel, winning also means overcoming all obstacles. For example, in Jordan they stopped broadcasting the competition during Israel’s song to protest against its participation. There are also Facebook groups calling for people to boycott Israel from the competition and not to vote for her.
So, the question should not be why it is so important for Israelis to win the competition. But rather, how could it not be?
*This article reflects the author’s personal views.