Israel’s Eden Golan performs at Eurovision final amid boos and cheers

Israel’s Eden Golan has performed at the Eurovision Song Contest final amid protests and loud shouts from the audience.

The 20-year-old singer, whose emotional song Hurricane was reworked from a previous track called October Rain, which was thought to reference the Hamas attacks on Israel that sparked the current conflict, remained calm despite the noise.

She faced loud jeers and boos from the audience, and people also shouting. There was also strong support for her, as claps and cheers were also heard.

BBC One commentator Graham Norton described the crowd as giving a “mixed reaction”.

He added: “In some of the open rehearsals we heard more booing, but there was quite a lot of cheering tonight as well and I should tell you that that song is tipped to do very well tonight.”

Sweden Eurovision Israel Palestinians
Police tackle a man during a protest against the participation of Israeli contestant Eden Golan ahead of the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters walked across the streets of Malmo from Stortorget to Molleplatsen on Thursday, when Golan was in the semi-final, and on Saturday to show their support for Gaza and condemn Israel taking part in Eurovision.

Golan has been surrounded by a convoy of security as she travels from the hotel to the contest venue, according to the Associated Press news agency.

During the semi-final, Golan, dressed in a flowing sand-coloured dress, was applauded and cheered by the audience.

That marked a change from her being booed during rehearsals on Wednesday, and reportedly facing shouts of “free Palestine” in the arena.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the competition, has encouraged the crowd to “attend in the spirit of the contest, embracing its values of inclusivity, celebrating diversity and being united by music” and said it will not “censor” the audience.

The organisers, whose members approved Israeli broadcaster Kan, has taken a strong stance, as in previous years, against political messages at Eurovision and flags and symbols from non-competing countries.

Despite the position, Tuesday’s first semi-final saw former Swedish contestant and opening act Eric Saade wear a keffiyeh pattern material, commonly used by people who want to show they are pro-Palestinian, on his arm.

The EBU said the body “regrets” the moment, while Saade said it was a “way of showing a part of my origin” and was a gift as a child from his father, who is of Palestinian origin.

There have also been several incidents of fans waving Palestinian flags during rehearsals.