>> Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands wins Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv
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In the end, the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Israel included everything a host country could hope for: an impressive, memorable and professional production that not only respected, but exceeded the norms of the past, a "Eurovillage" Fun and filled with food on the Mediterranean coast, and an appearance of the queen of pop herself – Madonna.
More importantly, after a quiet breathing, worry and concern – the events and festivities surrounding it were not countered by terrorist attacks or missile sirens, the fruit of intense efforts behind the scenes by the Israeli authorities. Even last-minute news about gunfights in Syria on Saturday night failed to spoil the party.
If there was a manifest failure in the exercise, a reason to give less effort to the eurovision effort in Israel, is that the vast majority of Spectators present during the dress rehearsal, semi-finals and finals – and at all the Eurovision-related festivities across Tel Aviv were Israeli.
The crowd of spectators from Europe to applaud the 41 participating countries that were supposed to invade the streets of Tel Aviv never materialized
And all the evidence showed that it was not the fault of the BDS, Roger Waters or any other pro-Palestinian activist – it was a self-inflicted injury, with a government that did not subsidize the campaigns Massive tourism related to Eurovision, The packages, or, most importantly, ensured the huge production costs, which resulted in exorbitant prices for the show.
"We had more than 20 friends who would have come to Israel for this Eurovision without the ticket price," said Michelle Ackerman, of Amsterdam, who was part of a group of friends who were waiting for 7 500 spectators. at the Tel Aviv Expo. Friends have attended countless competitions in various countries over the years. "Would you believe that our tickets cost more than our plane tickets?"
Waving Dutch flags and dressed in outfits backing their candidate Duncan Lawrence, who was about to compete with 25 other countries in Saturday's grand final, the Dutch visitors group, just like the handful of people in the Netherlands, was in a hurry. other groups from abroad, was quite rare. to be an attraction for the majority of members of the Israeli audience, who listened to them in an endless request for selfies alongside strangers.
At their side was a group from Spain. "The Eurovillage of Tel Aviv on the beach was awesome – spacious – and all the volunteers in the city were so kind and helpful," said Carlos Madrano, of Madrid, who went to watch the show. and go to Israel for the first time. "There is a great culture here and, above all, beautiful men. But yes, everything is expensive, even alcohol. "
"Eurovillage", the vast stage of Charles Clore Beach with a gigantic stage that hosts musical performances and broadcasts live broadcasts before the crowds, adjacent to Tel Aviv's annual food festival, is also dominated by Israelis.
Even if the success of Eurovision in Israel does not profit from word of mouth of the thousands of tourists who come back to the country, its story will be told by the 1,200 journalists and colorful vignettes broadcast by 200 million people, who have shown the largest number of Israel flattering side, have done their part to counter images that the world is more accustomed to associate with Israel – war, conflict and blood.
Local pride in the series has been carefully integrated into the series in a clear manner, but discreet enough not to alienate the international audience. The finale began with a video of 2018 winner Netta Barzilai flying over the country, flying over the fields, inspiring young people in Scout uniforms and in the Old City of Jerusalem, telling the control tower: We have 26 finalists from Eurovision Custom. "
Barzilai then "disembarked" from the huge plane on a blue-and-white stage, accompanied by dancing flight attendants, and greeted the crowd as the show opened with a medley of Eurovision's greatest hits. 'Israel.
Evoking the theme of this year's Eurovision, "Dare to Dream," host Erez Tal said at the opening of the show that Israel is "a country made up of people from all over the world who have dared to dream and follow that dream so that it becomes reality ". alongside the model Bar Refaeli, the Arab journalist Lucy Ayoub (who greeted the public in Arabic) and the openly homosexual television host Assi Azar After the 26 competitors sang their songs, a performance by Idan Raichel Project, a "Multiracial and Multicultural World Music" "The group, which played in Hebrew and Amharic, the only song in the series in the Israeli language, gave the international extravagance a dose of local flavor. To top it off, there was a three minute love video in Tel Aviv featuring Israel's biggest star in Hollywood, Gal Gadot.
In the end, it is an undeniable triumph in public relations.
Even the Icelandic competitor, Hatari, whose organizers feared such a protest on stage, simply raised a Palestinian banner in the vote at the end of the match.
The thousands of overseas visitors who came, and the millions of viewers, were shown exactly on the side of Israel that the organizers and the government wanted them to see – colorful, diverse, Loving to have fun – and, unlike the satirical and controversial promotional video that went around social media before the competition, did not mention occupation, conflict, war or conflict.
All this could wait until the lights of the grand finale go out.