Eden Alene will represent Israel in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest

The decision was met with praise by the CEO of Fidel, which works to help integrate Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli society on an educational and social level.

Eden Alene hugs her mother, Zehava Varkanesh, after winning the Rising Star contest and the honor to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place in Rotterdam on May 16, just nine days after her 20th birthday (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eden Alene hugs her mother, Zehava Varkanesh, after winning the Rising Star contest and the honor to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place in Rotterdam on May 16, just nine days after her 20th birthday
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Following the announcement of the cancellation of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest amid fears of spreading coronavirus, Israel's public broadcaster KAN told Eden Alene on Sunday during the Culture Agent program that she would instead represent Israel at Eurovision 2021.
Alene, a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli, was selected to represent Israel at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands, after winning Hakokhav Haba (The Next Star). She was the first Ethiopian Israeli to be chosen to represent the Jewish state in the competition, and was slated to sing “Feker Libi” by Doron Medalie and Idan Raichel at the show.
The contest was slated to begin on May 16, just nine days after Alene's 20th birthday.
However, due to the coronavirus, the European Broadcasting Union was forced to cancel the show.
“It’s in the DNA of the Eurovision Song Contest to bring delegations, artists and fans together in one place and provide an equal platform for all artists to compete together on the same stage and the same opportunity to shine,” the EBU said in a statement at the time. “We are all heartbroken that the Eurovision Song Contest will not be able to be staged in May but feel confident that the whole Eurovision family, across the world, will continue to provide love and support for each other at this difficult time.”
Upon hearing the news that she will be representing Israel in 2021, Alene's jaw visibly drops before she hides her face in her hands in a display of emotion. She thanked KAN before remarking "We're going to win!"
She concluded her message by, after asking permission, shouting loudly with enthusiasm as others cheers, quickly stating together with the host of Culture Agent that there aren't more than 10 people present, as mandated by the Health Ministry's guidelines that were recently signed into law.
In a statement, Michal Abra Samuel – CEO of the NGO Fidel, which works to help integrate Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli society on an educational and social level – praised KAN for the decision.
"In the past few days, we've approached KAN CEO Eldad Koblenz [about the matter] and we see that in light of our many requests, KAN has made the right, proper and just decision.
"Alene's win instilled hope in the hearts of many people and teenagers, who see her as a role model," she continued. "Oh behalf of us, the Ethiopian community and many others, we are pleased that you upheld Eden Alene's right to represent the State of Israel in the next Eurovision Song Contest in 2021. Eden is an asset to Israeli society and of added value to members of the Ethiopian community. She won this year's competition with great respect and after an arduous and difficult campaign, so such a step is worthy and fair."
On Saturday, it was reported that Eurovision's organizers were considering alternatives to the canceled Eurovision, though specifying that it would be a program rather than a competition.
According to a Reuters report, countries would be free to send the same participants selected for the 2020 Eurovision, but would be required to select new songs.
In addition to Israel, the EBU announced on Monday that 10 other countries have already announced their participants in the 2021 Eurovision, using the representatives initially selected for the 2020 iteration. These countries are Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Bulgaria, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia and Switzerland.
Hannah Brown contributed to this report.