Israeli winner Netta declaring Jerusalem the next host city struck more than a note of discord, especially after this week’s bloodshed
It wasn’t immediately obvious to me why I felt a sudden sense of discomfort just before midnight on Saturday. Standing in a packed-out square in Lisbon with thousands of others, I was watching the Eurovision final on a giant screen, the results from the night slowly rolling in. Having spent the preceding week with the UK’s contestant, SuRie, initially I thought I was just gutted for her after a wash of low scores and a stage invasion. But looking around, as Netta, the Israeli entry, took to the stage, overjoyed and victorious – the Israeli flags being waved all around me suddenly took on a more sinister tone.
Eurovision is traditionally held in the country that won the previous year, and when Netta gave her short acceptance speech, she made it clear: “Next year in Jerusalem.” Whether this was an off-the-cuff remark, or high command decision being communicated to the world, really doesn’t matter. It seems that, despite Tel Aviv being the country’s cultural capital and queer-friendly city, it would be in the disputed city of Jerusalem that next year’s event will be held. On the day of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), the optics of this was no accident. This controversial day in the Israeli calendar marks the date that the whole of Jerusalem was brought under Israeli rule. To others, it marks the further ongoing occupation of Palestinian land. Now it will be the host of the world’s largest live music competition – it makes the light-hearted event feel a little more dark.