Israel will drop out of Eurovision, but a compromise is likely - Kan

The strike in the Foreign Ministry means that the necessary arrangements won't be made to allow the Israeli contestant to participate.

 THE FOUR X-Factor for Eurovision finalists (from left): Michael Ben David, Sapir Saban, Inbal Bibi and Eli Huli. (photo credit: OHAD KAB)
THE FOUR X-Factor for Eurovision finalists (from left): Michael Ben David, Sapir Saban, Inbal Bibi and Eli Huli.
(photo credit: OHAD KAB)

The 10 plagues are part of the story of Passover, but this year, Israel may be afflicted by an 11th: due to a strike at the Foreign Ministry, Israel’s Eurovision contestant, Michael Ben David, will not be able to participate because there will be no one to take care of the costly security, according to a tweet posted by the Israel Broadcasting Company Kan on Tuesday morning.

“As of now, due to the Foreign Ministry strike that affects the security protocols, the Israeli delegation will not attend the Eurovision in Turin,” the tweet read.

Kan 11 posted an Instagram story showing Ben David crooning, “Sometimes life just brings you down.”

But many Eurovision fans felt that this announcement might be little more than a tempest in a kiddush cup, and simply represented posturing by Kan to make sure it would not be saddled with the security costs.

Maneskin of Italy appear on stage after winning the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands, May 23, 2021. (credit: PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/REUTERS)Maneskin of Italy appear on stage after winning the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands, May 23, 2021. (credit: PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/REUTERS)

This is not the first time there has been talk of Ben David dropping out. He posted in February on social media that he was considering withdrawing from the contest so that he would not bring a humiliating defeat upon Israel. But the word on the Eurovision blogs was that this was the singer’s way of making sure Kan coughed up cash for a personal manager for him, and would pay to make sure that the costumes and production values were up to the usual Eurovision standards.

Following Kan 11’s tweet on Tuesday, Eurovision analyst Jack Lawson replied to Kan on Twitter: “Most of you should have been Eurovision fans for long enough to understand that this is exactly how Israeli internal politics works. These empty threats of withdrawal are no different than the empty threats of withdrawal made in 2017 as well as by MBD himself just a month ago... The issue is that as of now, there is nobody to pay for Israel’s security while abroad. KAN released the threat of withdrawal in a hopefully successful attempt to pressure government officials into stepping in and funding security for the delegation. Nobody is withdrawing.”

Other fans commented that if Ben David could not attend in person, a “live on tape” option could be used, as the Australian delegation did last year so that even if there was no budget in place for a security detail, Ben David could still take part.

Maariv reported that Zevik Dror, head of the public relations firm that represents Ben David, said, “Israel’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest is hopeful that the Foreign Ministry and the GSS (Shin Bet Israel Security Agency) will be able to resolve the security issue, and that the Israeli delegation will be able to travel. Michael works hard and spends most of his time rehearsing for the Eurovision Song Contest in order to give the best show and represent the State of Israel with dignity on the largest stage in the world, the Eurovision stage.”

The workers union in the Foreign Ministry said that it is saddened that “foreign and finance ministers have not been able for many months to solve the difficult hardships of the Foreign Ministry employees. As long as no solution is found to the issue, the responsibility lies solely with them, and we apologize to all Israeli citizens who may be harmed by this... We are no longer able to remain silent in the face of overtime work and being on call without compensation, in the face of the arbitrary abolition of additional pay for risks in war-torn countries, in the face of the employment of cadets for minimum wage and consular workers receiving income supplement. It’s time to save the Foreign Service.”

Behind-the-scenes drama is part of the fun of Eurovision. Most fans seemed to feel that the various government branches would not leave Ben David to wander in the desert, and that he would take the stage in Turin in May as planned.