Eurovision contestants head to ‘Israel Calling’

Release of ‘Toy’ video launches country to top of competition betting charts.

Eurovision 2018: First preview of Netta Barzilai's music video | Netta - TOY (Kan 11 / YouTube)
It’s true the Eurovision competition isn’t until May, but die-hard Israeli fans will get a taste of the action a month early for the third year running at the “Israel Calling” event in April.
Like the past two years, Israeli has invited all the 2018 Eurovision entrants for a four-day visit to the Holy Land in order to tour the country, get to know each other and perform in a mini-Eurovision preview.
The trip, organized by the Tourism Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and other agencies, is slated to run April 8-11 and include more than half of this year’s 43 competitors.
According to event organizers, 25 countries have already confirmed their participation in the trip. The names of participants are expected to be released gradually in the coming weeks.
Last year, 27 of the contestants came to the Israel Calling event – up from 19 in 2016.
“This meeting is an opportunity for you to experience and celebrate our 70th anniversary and to get to know Israel and the Israeli people, the rich and diverse culture we have here,” said Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem in a statement. “For us, it’s an opportunity to get to know your cultures that you represent in your countries and abroad, and to create connections between our cultures and nations. I wish the participants more collaborations in the future with the rich and full-of-energy Israeli culture.”
Tali Eshkoli, who created and is running the event for the third year, said Israel will be waiting with a “big hug” to greet this year’s guests.
“I am happy that we have such a wonderful opportunity to show the beauty of Israel to the artists, and to celebrate Eurovision together that will promote each and every one of the artists in front of potential Israeli voters,” she said.
And Israel is already in high gear ahead of the May competition in Lisbon, Portugal, releasing its video for Toy, sung by Netta Barzilai, on Sunday night.
The song is an upbeat feminist anthem with some bizarre soundtrack additions, including some unmistakable chicken noises – and dance moves.
The song, written by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger, includes the lines: “Wonder woman don’t you ever forget/ You’re divine and he’s about to regret/ I’m not your toy!/ Not your toy/ You stupid boy.” The song is almost entirely in English, except for the three words “Ani lo booba,” i.e., “I’m not a doll.”
Despite some apprehension from Israeli music critics, the release of the song rocketed Israel to the top of the Eurovision betting charts on Sunday. Odds Checker, Eurovision World and Nicer Odds all listed Barzilai at the top of the charts on Monday. But don’t start planning a 2019 contest in Jerusalem just yet – it’s very early, and likely to change. The sites also don’t take into account geopolitical motives that are likely to play a role.
Barzilai, a 24-year-old from Hod Hasharon, won the Kochav Haba TV contest last month to represent Israel at the Eurovision. She will be the first woman sent to the competition by Israel since 2014.