(May 20, 2019 / JNS) Most Americans, unless they’re Jewish or into Israeli geopolitics, probably don’t know or care that the Eurovision just took place in Tel Aviv. For those who don’t cross American cultural borders, Eurovision could best be explained as “European Idol,” the “Super Bowl” of song contests in which European and honorary European countries send their pseudo-best to represent their country. The winner is chosen by a point system combining votes of professional juries and fans from across Europe. Famous winners include Abba and Celine Dion, but most others drift to obscurity.
The winner brings not only honor to their country (although the honorability of the contest is up for debate), but the opportunity to host the contest in their country the following year. In her “be yourself,” girl-power-themed ditty “Toy,” the proudly overweight Netta Barzilai became Israel’s fourth Eurovision victor. (Israel won in 1978, 1979 and 1998.) Thanks to her beatboxing, chicken-squawking antics, about 200,000 million viewers tuned in to watch what one Tel Aviv resident, LiaMi Lawrence, the head of the Keep Olim in Israel immigrant-advocacy organization, called, “a four-hour commercial for Israel.”
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