Wiwibloggs has introduced a new feature in which we are taking a look at all of the countries currently participating in the Eurovision Song Contest and the reasons why we love them. Our featured country today is Israel, the intended hosts of the upcoming 2019 edition.

Israel debuted in the 1973 edition of the contest. Prior to their debut, Yugoslavia was the easternmost country to participate in the contest. It took only five years for Israel to record its first victory and only six for them to get their second, pulling off back-to-back wins in 1978 and 1979.

More recently, Israel endured a run of poor results at the start of the current decade. After four straight failures to qualify from 2011-2014, they reinvented the wheel by using the Rising Star program to select its entrants and switched to English-language songs. This has led to much better results since 2015, culminating in Netta’s victory in 2018 with “Toy”. With a rich history to draw from, here are 10 reasons why we love Israel at Eurovision.

1. A “Diva” like no other

Twenty years on from Israel’s third win, we have witnessed performers like Conchita Wurst and moments like Krista Siegfrids’ same-sex kiss. But we must go back to what set it all in motion. Back in 1999, Dana International became the first openly transgender winner of the contest. Her victory was a huge moment for the LGBT community and has paved the way for many changes around Europe since. Many divas have come to the contest since 1998 but we can never forget the original “Diva”.

2. Their entries are amazing, even when they don’t do well

Some countries are on and off at Eurovision, alternating between huge success and disappointing failure. Israel’s results may follow that trend but some of their worst results have been among their best entries. There is no better example than fan favourite Mei Finegold, who placed second last in her semi-final at Eurovision 2014. Despite the result, “Same Heart” remains a big favourite with Eurovision fans.

3. They have artists with some amazing names

Israel have no shortage of creativity when it comes to artist names. In 2000, they were represented by a group called PingPong. In 1987, Lazy Bums flew the Israeli flag in Brussels. And let’s not forget that Gali Atari won the Eurovision Song Contest 1979 with Milk and Honey by her side. If you’re still feeling hungry after that, wash down have some Chocolate, Menta, Mastik (Chocolate, Mint, Gum) — the 1976 act — or perhaps a cuppa Teapacks (2007).

4. They are the only winners who did not attempt to defend their title

After securing a second straight victory in 1979, Israel opted against keeping the contest in Jerusalem due to financial reasons. But not only that, Israel didn’t even compete in Eurovision 1980 as that year’s contest clashed with an important memorial day. To date, Israel is the only winning country to not defend their crown the next year. Fortunately, their bid to host Eurovision 2019 is going much more smoothly

5. They know how to start the party

One thing has always been clear throughout the years — Israel can bring the party to Eurovision. Whether it’s Ofra Haza with the catchy “Hi” in 1983 or Imri Ziv in 2017, Israel can get you on your feet. While they’re capable of slowing things down when they need to, there’s nothing more exciting than an Israeli party anthem at Eurovision. Just check out that epic dance break in “I Feel Alive”!

6. There are plenty of hot guys in Israel

Imri Ziv – Eurovision’s Next Top Male Model 2017

Speaking of Imri Ziv, he was voted Eurovision’s Next Top Male Model 2017 by our readers. And let’s not forget that Harel Skaat was runner-up in Eurovision’s Next Top Model 2010. Bo’az Ma’uda might’ve had a crack at the award if it was around in 2008. There must be something in the water in Israel. We don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, keep drinking!

7. They sent a unique peace anthem in 2009

We all know the usual love, love, peace, peace song that is featured so often at Eurovision. They’re everywhere and it’s easy to get sick of them. However, Israel put a unique spin on the Eurovision peace anthem in 2009, when they sent the duo Noa & Mira Awad. Noa is a Jewish-Israeli while Awad is an Arab-Israeli and they performed “There Must Be Another Way” in English, Hebrew and Arabic. That’s one way to come together, y’all!

8. The beautiful Hebrew language

One of the most beautiful aspects of Eurovision is the plethora of different languages on display to the entire world. As an Afroasiatic language, Hebrew is certainly different to any other language frequently heard at Eurovision. When Israel opts to sing in Hebrew, they certainly stand out. There are no shortage of beautiful Hebrew entries at Eurovision but most recently, Moran Mazor performed the beautiful “Rak Bishvilo” in 2013.

9. Amazing Middle Eastern ethnopop

We’ve already highlighted Imri Ziv and his banger “I Feel Alive”. That is certainly not the only time Israel sent amazing ethnopop to Eurovision. Nadav Guedj showed us Tel Aviv in 2015 with “Golden Boy” and even Netta had elements of traditional Middle Eastern ethnopop in “Toy”. It’s an area in which Israel certainly excels and we can’t wait to see more of it.

10. The mother-bucking beat

It seems only fitting to conclude this list with the reigning queen of Eurovision. Israel’s victory in 2018 with Netta was a victory for being different and “Toy” is just that. Throwing out all of the rules of conventional pop songwriting, “Toy” was a work of art, amplified by Netta’s personality. I’m going to be controversial and go as far as saying that “Toy” is the best winner of modern times. Whether or not you agree, get your chicken suit on (like we did) and take that Pikachu home. There’s no way you’ll sit still through that mother-bucking beat!

What do you think of Israel at Eurovision? What are your favourite Israeli entries? Let us know in the comments below.

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AngieP
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AngieP

Israel… Mmm, let me think.
Dana International.
My all time favourite 1978 winning song, by Izar Cohen.
Mei Finegold not qualifying. Seriously? That was a really good song.
The Hebrew language which sounds so beautifully,
The up-beat dance songs they send from time to time. If Israel can’t send a good song like that, then who?
And yes, the guys. That’s true.

Emily
Guest

I like Israel! Diva’s a belter, but of their entries I’ve really enjoyed their ballads. 2013 in particular was one of the biggest non-qualifiers ever, IMO! I also have the softest spot for Time (2012) and their 2005 entry was my personal runner-up that year. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this year’s winner, but I can definitely see why it won and all power to ’em.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

” “Toy” is the best winner of modern times.”
You used the wrong superlative.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

I didn’t like any of their songs between 2009 and 2017, but I sure love them for giving us some of the best songs in the history of the contest (HaSheket Shenish’ar, Diva, Light a Candle and The Fire in Your Eyes are all excellence).

Dean
Guest
Dean

and… they have a lot of hot WOMEN !

Denis
Guest
Denis

Well, technically Turkey isn¨t in Europe either. And they won. Only a very small part of Turkey is in Europe
Russia also is only partially in Europe.

Calvin
Guest
Calvin

No words about Israel 2005 Shiri Maimon “Hasket Shenishar” masterpiece? in my opinion one of the best ballads in ESC hisotory..

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

This, right here!

Izhar Levy
Member

For me the most great songs are actually amongst those who didn’t win especially Hi, Hasheket Shenishar and Kan. I remember Hi even though I was only a child. It was such a symbolic song as well as it was performed on German soil c. 40 years after the war. Ofra and her group of dancers wore yellow outfits referring to the yellow Star of David that the Jews were required to put durning WW2. Israelis become so emotional when they hear Hi which is basically an anthem to the renaissance of the state of Israel (and also because the… Read more »

Veronica
Guest
Veronica

Harel Skaat is my favorite.

Maya
Guest
Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

Mergui wouldn’t have qualified. he’s just another face with pop voice. Mikolas would have eclipsed him if he had been chosen.

Plus, Netta was the best this year. and If not Netta- definitely Chen and NOT Mergui.

Maya
Guest
Maya

YOU MUST BE JOKING !! HE IS A MEGGA STAR IN ISRAEL NOW. SOON ALL OVER THE WORLD !! https://www.instagram.com/jonathanmergui/

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

The fact the you became a teenager star in Israel doesn’t make you a “mega star”, and with all due respect, Europe and America have thousands just like him. again, there’s nothing really special about him, he’s a pretty face and pretty standard Pop-voice.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Agreed. And I mean, you couldn’t really hope for a better result than Netta got. Literally.

zeev
Guest
zeev

not yet maybe more few years

Joe
Guest
Joe

When cows fly

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

Netta is already a mega star and is the first Eurovision performer to chart and perform in the United States. Yeah, you couldn’t literally act for a better outcome for Israel this year.

Eyal
Guest
Eyal

Netta freaking WON and you’re complaining about Mergui not being sent??? What?! ??????!!!

zeev
Guest
zeev

thanks wiwiblogs, its never boring with us…

Allon Brait
Guest
Allon Brait

All right !!
little thing
” Lazy Bums” – 1986…
2014- We been robbed …
2009 – Anyone who been in Israel once – know the true about us .
1998 – Breaking point for the ESC and Europe !

Joe
Guest
Joe

Technically Azerbaijan stretches the definition of Europe as well

JackTheBoy
Guest
JackTheBoy

Azerbaijan, Russia and Georgia are at least transcontinental countries. While countries like Israel, Australia and even Armenia have no territory located in Europe. But I personally have no problem with it, cause the more the merrier. It’s a song contest that is created to unite people after all.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Exactly! The more the merrier.

LawStudent
Guest
LawStudent

There seems to be a song everyone on here are neglecting but is an example of what is so great about the history of Israel in Eurovision and that is Amen by Liora in 1995. Some of Israel’s most memorable entries are timeless. They incorporate unifying universal themes (like Hallelujah, Diva, Hai, Amen and even Birthday from 1999) with ear-worm like melodies (like in Toy, Golden Boy, Same Heart, and Hashket Shenishar). Israel takes this competition very seriously, unlike some other countries, and produces quality tracks and performances that have a long-lasting impact. Plus 1995 was the year that I… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Quite possibly my favorite Eurovision country. As a country, Israel means a lot to me. A lot of my family lives there, I’ve visited several times, and they all know and love Eurovision. I love all the winners, and there are plenty of classics scattered in there (Kan, Golden Boy, Ole Ole, Ben Adam, Natati La Khayay, Hora, There Must Be Another Way, ill even make a case for songs like Shiru or Time that didn’t do as well), but the best is probably Hi. I will, however, admit that I’ve probably listened to Shir Habatlanim more than any other… Read more »

Maya G
Guest
Maya G

Have you seen the singalong version of Hi by 600 holocaust survivors and their offsprings? Perfect harmonies, gave me the shivers. Absolutely beautiful.
https://youtu.be/Vuh1-jDi7Qw

Joe
Guest
Joe

Ooh, might actually have to check that it. For once the relentless useless plugging worked!

Maya G
Guest
Maya G

Did you hear the Acapella version of Hi from a few months ago? Goosebumps alert!
https://youtu.be/Vuh1-jDi7Qw

James
Guest
James

Here’s my favourite Israeli Eurovision fun fact:
In the 1980’s, the Israeli public was so obsessed with eurovision that losing the national final (the Kdam) proved to be a worthy topic for a song.
In 1985, Yizhar Cohen won with “Ole Ole” and went on to get 5th place in Sweden, but the runner ups (runners up?), a trio named “Kmo Tzoani”, wrote a new song about losing, “Anachnu nisharim ba’aretz”, roughly translated as “We are staying behind in Israel”. It became a major hit and was titled song of the year in the Israeli charts.

https://youtu.be/yDD0sEMrjsg

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

Fun fact: It’s funny you guys mentioned “Khay” and Imri in the same paragraph. do you see the small metal thingy hanging from hsi wrist? it says in Hebrew “Khay” – ?? (Alive)

Also, the boy can sing. I think he chooses the wrong genre (pop) and the wrong language (English).

beccaboo1212
Guest

The national language rule was removed starting from 1999, allowing countries to sing in any language.

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

That’s not what I meant. I meant that he shouldn’t sing American Pop cuz he sounds much worse than when he sings Rock and/or in Hebrew.

The fact that he insists to keep up with this foolish dream of being this womenizer pop star only hinders him from unleashing his powerful voice.

check him out here :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLQVbm2hQJI

this is the style he should adopt. he sounds the best like this.

Ali
Guest
Ali

My favourite Israeli entry is “Ben Adam” from 1988. It’s an evergreen, underrated one. <3

LawStudent
Guest
LawStudent

Yes! Yardena slays.. “Ten Leshem Ten LeCham Ten LeYefet Nechama!”

MusicIstheKey
Guest
MusicIstheKey

I hope you forgive my eagerness 🙂 But I’d like to say a word about the entry Time from 2012. Which itself is one of the reason why I love Israel. Because it’s close to my alltime favourite ESC-song. I remember many poeple liked t back then, and were disappointed when it failed to reach the final. It should be worth saying that the experts wanted them to qualify…! 🙂 This is just a perfect, original, bright, powerful, ultracatchy feelgood song. A kind of mix between indiepop and britpop. Two music styles I LOVE. So this is one of the… Read more »

avner
Guest
avner

Time is a great song – thanks for mentioning it. The presentation IMHO was a miss as far as their true selves (they looked fake-sexy when they are real indie. Bad advice from someone?) But the song still sounds great, partly because it is retro.

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

“Time” is one of my big all-time favourites too! I highly recommend delving into Izabo’s back catalogue. They released three albums, all packed full of that same style of catchy, weird, psychedelic indie rock with Middle Eastern influences.

MusicIstheKey
Guest
MusicIstheKey

I was very happy for Israel winning in 1998. I don’t pay much attention to the LGBT-community, the reason why it was an important victory was music (of course). With all respect, I think ESC lots some of it’s grip with “usual popmusic” n the 90s. But suddenly became a REALLY modern, powerful dance anthem along. PERFECTLY in line with the current trends. I’m not saying ESC songs have to be modern / trendy. But I think it work as a brilliant catchy dance stomper also these days! 🙂

MusicIstheKey
Guest
MusicIstheKey

As one of many straight male fans (yep, many of us too of course), I’d would rather say they have a lot of hot WOMEN 🙂 Israeli women are in my eyes very beautiful, something we have often seen in ESC

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

Ikr, moran mazor is gorgeous

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

She’s skinny now 🙂

LawStudent
Guest
LawStudent

Two words: Shiri Mimon!!!

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

Milim, Rak Bishvilo, Toy, Golden Boy, The Fire in your eyes <3 <3 (esp. Milim). I mean, everytime someone mentions The fire in your eyes I immediately chant in my head "naaaaaaaaaafeshiiiiiiiii meyakhalaaaaaaaaa" One cool aspect of Hebrew is how easy it is to create rhymes – almost every word is conjugated in one way or another and almost all the conjugations end in the same sounds : Rak bishvilo / ukhal lishkoakh et hakor uvizkhuto/ emtza bakhoshekh et haor/ rak bishvilo elekh ekhtze et hagvulot / rak ito emtza tshuvot la'she'elot (o – him, bishvilo, bizkhuto. ot – plural… Read more »

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

I was so sad when Israel announced their withdrawal during the 2017 voting, only to come back and snatch the trophy next year! Rak Bishvilo, Toy, Golden Boy, Same Heart, Fire in Your Eyes, Milim, There Must Be Another Way, I Feel Alive and Same Heart are all masterpieces and Israel is one of my favorite Eurovision countries! I hope they can host the contest in Tel Aviv next year!

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

Hosts of the upcoming 2019 contest, well…. xD

James
Guest
James

LOL as an Israeli I was waiting for this list, but there is even more comfort in seeing it in the middle of all the current mess… Thanks!

ESCFan2009 (male, 22, German)
Guest
ESCFan2009 (male, 22, German)

I think it is placed wrong. Cause of the current mess, nobody sees the positive things of this article. Everyone is concentrated on the hosting question. The haters will say, oh, what a mess right now, so it’s a bad ESC country. To honour this nation, this article has to be published in a moment, when everything is fine. Not now 🙁