Eurovision shows understanding on Israel's Rememberance Day

European Broadcasting Union gives Israel a semi-final slot to avoid performance on sensitive day in 2011 contest.

Harel Skaat 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Harel Skaat 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The European Broadcasting Union that runs the annual Eurovision Song Contest has demonstrated understanding for Israeli sensitivities by granting the Israel Broadcasting Authority a spot in the second semifinal of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest.
Alphabetically, Israel should compete on May 10, which coincides with Remembrance Day for the Fallen.
When the IBA asked the EBU whether, in view of the circumstances, it could switch, it received a positive response, and the EBU has also published the reason on its website.
Israel will compete in the second semifinal on May 12.
Israel’s entry in the contest still has to be selected. Neither the singer/s nor the song has yet been chosen.
In fact, there was a strong possibility that Israel might not compete in 2011 – or if it did, it would not be under the auspices of the IBA, whose director-general, Moti Sklar, is of the opinion that the Eurovision does not conform to the image that he wants Channel 1 to convey.
The matter came up for discussion on Monday at the meeting of the IBA plenum.
Sklar’s was almost a lone voice in the wilderness, and his objections were overruled.
IBA chairman Amir Gilat said that the Eurovision Song Contest was one of the key assets of the IBA, and as far as he was concerned, it was unthinkable that the IBA should relinquish it.
Gilat emphasized how important is was that the IBA, as a public broadcasting service, continue to represent Israel at Eurovision. One of the reasons, he explained, was that if Israel happens to win, it will give a tremendous boost to cultural broadcasts at home and to Israeli culture abroad.
Israel has three times won the Eurovision Song Contest.
The first time was in 1978 with Izhar Cohen and the Alphabet Group singing “A-bani- bi,” as a result of which Jerusalem became the venue for the contest the following year. It was the first time that the contest was held outside the European continent.
The second win was in 1979, when Gali Atari and the Milk and Honey Group, performing on home territory, romped in with “Hallelujah.” The victorious blaring of car horns was heard all over Jerusalem.
It took almost two decades for Israel to triumph yet again. This time it was Dana International – singing “Diva” in Birmingham, England, in 1998 – who took the adjudicating panels in different countries by storm.
In recent years, there have been inconsistencies in the choice of singers and songs.
Sometimes the public was involved. At other times it wasn’t.
There were contests among song writers and composers, and there were other times when there was no contest and well-known lyricists and composers were asked to come up with one or more songs.
Gilat made the point that a formula must be found for making the choice of song part of Israel’s music culture in tandem with an exciting competition for the best song.
He said that the IBA would soon publish tenders for bids for the production and format of choosing the song.
Sklar again voiced his reservations, but said that he would go along with the majority decision.
Another topic of discussion at the meeting was the need for more original productions.
The Finance Committee of the IBA plenum approved a NIS 15 million budget for external drama, documentary, satirical, cultural, music and other productions throughout 2011.
Gilat said that the IBA must be ready for the day after the IBA reforms have been fully endorsed and approved, and must have a program line-up reflecting both the IBA’s policy and vision.
Sklar clarified that the NIS 15m. budget was part of an overall production budget of NIS 65m. that would be invested by the IBA in 2011, providing that the reforms go ahead as planned.
Sports lovers will also get a large dose of coverage, interspersed with programs on culture, light entertainment and social issues.