1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Thousands protest Israel's Eurovision participation

May 10, 2024

According to police estimates, over 10,000 people turned up to protest Israel's inclusion in the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Malmo, Sweden. Israeli contestant Eden Golan made the final with the song "Hurricane."

Protesters carrying flags and banners in the Swedish city of Malmo, where this year's ESC is taking place
Demonstrators turned out in large numbers to object to Israel's inclusion in this year's Eurovision Song ContestImage: Johan Nilsson/TT/AP/picture alliance

Thousands of people opposed to Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest demonstrated on Thursday ahead of this year's second semi-final.

More than 10,000 people, among them climate activist Greta Thunberg, gathered to take part in the rally, according to police estimates.

Just hours later, Israeli contestant Eden Golan performed her song "Hurricane," making the final following a public vote.

Barricades around Malmo Arena

Metal barricades and large concrete blocks were put up around the Malmo Arena in the Swedish city hosting the competition, and local police received back up from Danish and Norwegian colleagues.

Though police said the march through the city was "quiet," demonstrators set off smoke flares in the colors of the Palestinian flag during a noisy rally where participants chanted the contentious slogan, "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" as well as "Israel is a terrorist state" calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Greta Thunberg attends the demonstration in Malmo
Climate activist Greta Thunberg joined the demonstrationsImage: Johan Nilsson/EPA

Organizers of the protests say they plan to march again before the final on Saturday.

Israel warns citizens, as EBU claims event is apolitical

Earlier, the Israeli government issued a clear warning to its citizens citing "tangible concern" that they could be targeted, and loud booing could be heard as Eden Golan performed during dress rehersal.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the pan-continental pop competition, ruled that Israel is allowed to compete, despite months of vocal opposition against the country's participation in the midst of the Israel-Hamas war

Golan was forced to change the title and lyrics of her song before being allowed to compete, however. It had originally been titled, "October Rain," in what seemed to be a reference to the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that sparked the current war.

The EBU claims Eurovision is apolitical but critics have highlighted Russia's exclusion from the competition over its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Belarus was excluded a year earlier over its record on human rights and freedom of the press. This year's competition also bans the display of Palestinian flags.

jsi, js/lo (AFP, dpa, Reuters)