Israel ranks 23rd in Eurovision as Portugal takes win

IBA's Ofer Nachshon uses live vote to mourn closure of public broadcaster

PAST ISRAELI Eurovision contestants Dana International (left) and Orna Datz (right) pose with current contender Imri Ziv (photo credit: OR GHEFEN)
PAST ISRAELI Eurovision contestants Dana International (left) and Orna Datz (right) pose with current contender Imri Ziv
(photo credit: OR GHEFEN)
After a more than two hours of sparkly, strange and over-the-top songs at the Eurovision finals in Kiev Saturday night, Israel's Imri Ziv took a disappointing 23rd place out of the 26 finalists.
The top spot went to Portugal's Salvador Sobral, singing "Amar Pelos Dois." Second place went to Bulgaria and third to Moldova. Last year Israel came in 14th and in 2015 it came in 9th place.
As he has been doing since 2009, the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Ofer Nachshon presented Israel's awarding of points in the contest live - with top marks to Portugal and Sweden. But Nachshon also used the opportunity to publicly mourn the IBA's closure on Sunday to hundreds of millions of viewers around Europe.
"For the past 44 years Israel has participated in the Eurovision song contest, winning three times," he told the Ukrainian hosts. "But tonight is our final night, shortly IBA will shut down its broadcasting forever. So on behalf of all of us here in IBA, let me say thank you Europe for all the magical moments and the beautiful music.... and hopefully we shall meet again in the future."
Many on social media were stunned by the news that Israel will seemingly be leaving the Eurovision contest. And while it is true that IBA, a member of the European Broadcasting Union, is shutting down on Sunday, the fate of Israel's Eurovision participation is more complicated. It remains to be seen if Kann, the IBA's replacement, will be accepted into the EBU; the division between its news and other broadcasting departments demanded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may leave it ineligible.
The EBU told The Jerusalem Post last week that it "has some reservations" about the new public broadcaster and is "following closely" the developments. It added that the body will only consider Kann's application for membership once the network "becomes operational."
On Saturday night, Ziv took the stage first out of the 26 finalists in Kiev, and sang "I Feel Alive," written by Dolev Ram and Ben Hazut.
It was a night in true Eurovision tradition, with sequins, drama and a host of strange props.
The Italian performer had a dancing man in a monkey suit, while Norway was accompanied by a masked DJ and Spain's crew was entirely outfitted in Hawaiian shirts.
Romania's entry was half rap, half yodeling, and the singers brought two cannons on stage. Croatia's performer was half English falsetto and half Italian opera, while Hungary had a rapper who also drummed on a metal milk jug.  Belarus had a boat, Austria a crescent moon and Greece brought two shirtless men dancing in a puddle.
But perhaps nothing was quite as strange as the entry from Azerbaijan, whose singer performed inside a room made of a chalkboard accompanied by a man in a suit and a horse head perched atop a ladder.
With any luck, Israel will be back next year for another weird and wacky adventure.