Eurovision organisers will not ‘censor’ audience if Israel is booed again

Eurovision organisers will not ‘censor’ audience if Israel is booed again

Eurovision Song Contest organisers have said they will not “censor” the audience at the second semi-final in Malmo, Sweden after Israel’s entry Eden Golan was booed during rehearsals.

Golan will be one of the last performers at Malmo Arena with her song Hurricane, which was reworked from an earlier track called October Rain, thought to be a reference to the date of the Hamas attack on Israel in which hundreds of people were kidnapped and killed.

She was booed by some of the spectators watching rehearsals on Wednesday and there were reportedly shouts of “free Palestine”.

“Just like in all major TV productions with an audience, SVT work on the broadcast sound to even out the levels for TV viewers,” a statement from the Eurovision organisers, including Swedish host broadcaster SVT, said.

“This is solely to achieve as balanced a sound mix as possible for the audience; and SVT do not censor sound from the arena audience.

“The same principle applies to all competing performances and opening and interval acts.

“The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) and SVT encourage all audiences to attend in the spirit of the contest, embracing its values of inclusivity, celebrating diversity and being United By Music.”

Earlier in the day, Greta Thunberg, 21, was at the Stop Israel demonstration, between Stortorget and Molleplatsen in the centre of the Swedish city ahead of a performance by singer Eden Golan who is representing Israel in the second semi-final on Thursday night.

The environmental activist was wearing a keffiyeh, a scarf commonly used to show support for Palestine, around her body in the centre of the crowd.

During the march, Stockholm-born Thunberg refused to comment apart from telling the PA news agency that she was “good” while flanked by other young activists.

Swedish police have estimated between 10,000 to 12,000 people took part in the protest march.

During the demonstrations, smoke canisters in the colours of the Palestinian flag were set off and protesters, some of whom had dogs, young children and bicycles with them, were carrying signs displaying images of Gaza civilians who have been injured amid the Hamas-Israel conflict.

Protesters hold up a banner with the words in Swedish No To Genocide
Protesters hold up a banner with the words in Swedish No To Genocide (Martin Meissner/AP)

At one point, the pro-Palestinian demonstrators were told to go back by police and, following shouts of “free Palestine”, returned to the main gathering.

There was also a banner created with Eurovision-style branding with the words “genocide” on it, an accusation vigorously denied by Israel amid the war with Hamas which was sparked by the October 7 killings and kidnappings of hundreds of Israelis.

The sign was later taken to Malmo Arena, where activists handed out leaflets making similar allegations.

At a protest in Malmo, Rory Flynn, 27, from Kildare, told the PA he is from the Eurovision Irish fan club and has started a “separate movement” to protest against Israel, adding the country’s entry in Sweden is “overshadowing the competition”.

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Eden Golan of Israel will perform at the second Eurovision semi-final on Thursday (Martin Meissner/AP)

He said: “We feel that it’s important to make our voices heard in the competition in the arena. Others are doing a full boycott – and full respect to people who are doing a full boycott – but we think it’s important that our voices are heard in the arena and around Malmo.”

Mr Flynn also said his group booed during Golan’s dress rehearsals this week, adding: “This song is a propaganda song. OK, it was originally called October Rain and now it’s called Hurricane, you can see there, it’s the same melody; the lyrics have been changed at the request of the EBU (European Broadcast Union), but it is the same song.

“And it is about justifying Israel’s genocide in Gaza, and I think that says it all really, you know, I think it’s quite appropriate to kind of boo that propaganda.”

Fellow Irishman Kieran O’Casey, 71, from Dublin, said he was not a Eurovision fan, but was in Malmo to make a stance against the bombing in Gaza.

“I’m not a hardliner that they (Ireland) should have totally boycotted,” he added.

“I don’t think Israel should have been allowed to participate, not in the face of Israel’s behaviour.

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People wave Palestinian flags during a Pro-Palestinian demonstration for excluding Israel from Eurovision (Martin Meissner/AP)

“There’s no way because in a way, it’s a kind of, it’s an acceptance you can do what you want but we’re gonna be pals and sing songs and wear glittery clothes while the bombing was going on. You know, it’s obscene.”

Protesters marched across the city to Molleplatsen Park, with the crowd stretching around a mile long.

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People carry Israeli and Swedish flags during a pro-Israel demonstration to pay tribute to Israel’s Eurovision participant Eden Golan in Malmo, Sweden (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)

Malmo-born Adam, who would not give his surname, told PA that the demonstrators were not “against Israelis” but the country’s “politics”.

He also said that there are “protests” against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking place in the Middle Eastern country.

A small gathering of pro-Israeli activists also held demonstrations in Malmo to show their support for Golan.