Categories
Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Turin 2022

Israel Withdrawal Threat: What Are The Potential Implications? ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ

On 12th April 2022, Israeli broadcaster KAN revealed that Israel were, at this current point in time, unlikely to be attending Eurovision 2022 – in person, at least.

The reasoning given by KAN on Twitter was that due to the Israeli Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Strike, security couldn’t be sufficiently provided to the Israeli delegation, which in turn means that they will not attend the contest in Turin.

News of this was unexpected and has left many wondering what would happen if a country were to withdraw so close to the start of Eurovision rehearsals, which are due to begin at the end of this month. What are the current options for Israel and the implications behind them?

Withdrawal

Should Israel choose to withdraw, it would mean Semi-Final 2’s participants are reduced from 18 to 17, and of course all the songs below Israel would move up one place in the running order. Due to Israel being drawn to perform second, this would affect every country bar Finland, who are performing first with ‘Jezebel’.

Earlier this year after the conclusion of X Factor Israel, rumours suggested that there were issues regarding the revamp of their song ‘I.M’, which is said to have made their artist Michael Ben David reconsider his participation in the contest. Despite the revamp going ahead, it looks as if Michael still won’t be heading to Turin at all.

At this late stage, it’s likely withdrawal would see Israel face a penalty from the EBU of some kind, which could simply just mean that the broadcaster still has to pay their participation fee. As Eurovision is funded by the fees paid to the EBU by all participating broadcasters, and with the shows already planned and the venue now set to welcome all other 39 delegations in around 3 weeks time, the budget for the contest will have been set and spent at this point. With this budget taking into account all 40 broadcasters, the removal of one participation fee could end up sending the contest into disarray and could be costly for the EBU.

This would be the first time since 2016 that a song has been withdrawn by a country mere weeks before the contest takes place. 6 years ago, Romania’s song ‘Moment Of Silence’ by Ovidou Anton was withdrawn just 3 weeks before the show in Stockholm due to outstanding debts unpaid by broadcaster TVR.

It would also be the third song withdrawn from Eurovision this year: Malta withdrew their song ‘Out Of Sight’ by Emma Muscat, changing it to ‘I Am What I Am’ after MESC concluded, and Alina Pash withdrew herself and her song ‘Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors’ after issues with travel documents she had provided to the Ukrainian broadcaster. She was later replaced by Kalush Orchestra and their song ‘Stefania’. Israel could be the second country to entirely withdraw from this year’s contest after Russia was expelled due to their invasion of Ukraine. It would also be the first contest Israel has missed since the turn of the new millennium; the last contest they didn’t attend was in 1997.

Live On Tape

Of course the delegation refusing to travel due to the strike could result in the use of their Live On Tape performance. In 2021, the Live On Tape (LOT) was introduced if any country was unable to travel to Rotterdam to perform due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This was only used in the main contest by Australia, who weren’t able to travel to Europe due to travel restrictions in their country (and Rotterdam rehearsal footage was used for Iceland, when one of their act contracted the virus whilst in The Netherlands).

The same process has been used in 2022 in case any artists are unable to make the contest due to COVID or for reasons beyond their control (e.g. Ukraine potentially needing to use their LOT due to the ongoing Russian invasion of their country, prior to Kalush Orchestra being given permission to leave the country to take part in Italy).

The implication of Israel doing this for the 2022 contest is that many don’t see it as a legitimate reason to use their LOT performance. By doing this, it may open the floodgates for other delegations to decide not to travel to Eurovision and participate in the host country under the guise of internal issues with the broadcaster or government in the future.

The Live On Tape is used in the event of COVID or special circumstances such as Ukraine’s but where do these special circumstances end? Could a country just decide one year to save the money, stay at home and not travel to the host country? Would that potentially lead to a catalyst where we begin to see Eurovision become a full recorded event with no live performances? The guidelines aren’t clear and Israel using their current situation as a reason to use their LOT instead isn’t enough of an excuse for some fans, who believe that using the LOT is an abuse of the system. There isnโ€™t enough evidence to suggest using your LOT performance is detrimental but, considering Australia faced their first non-qualification in 2021 when using it, its track record isnโ€™t off to a good start.

Is The Strike The Only Reason Behind Their Potential Withdrawal In Any Capacity?

It has been rumoured that there are other reasons behind Israel’s threat to withdraw aside from the strike. Threatening withdrawal could be done to pressure the government into funding security for the delegation, which would therefore have no impact on their travel if the government were to give in.

Due to Israel’s unfavourable odds right now (and the not so positive reaction to ‘I.M’), withdrawing would save them from losing their 7-year qualification streak, which could be a factor leading up to ESC. Their threat could also simply be in response to the negative reaction their pre-party Israel Calling received, which was marketed as an event to show Israel in a ‘positive’ light. They didn’t get the expected response to their song or their hosting of this event so withdrawing could be a way for them to ‘save face’ and not face potential further embarrassment or negativity.

This also isnโ€™t the first time a withdrawal from Israel has been mentioned in the last few years. In 2017, it seemed likely that theyโ€™d be leaving the contest due to the closure of their then broadcaster IBA, which saw them seem to indirectly state that they would be leaving Eurovision during the voting. However, this didnโ€™t happen and with new broadcaster KAN taking over, they returned & won the following 2018 ESC in Lisbon with โ€˜Toyโ€™ by Netta.

Tonight, is our final night, shortly IBA will shut down its broadcasting forever, so on behalf of all of us here in IBA, let me say thank you Europe for all the magical moments and the beautiful years

Ofer Naschon, Israeli Spokesperson 2017 (Quote provided by Times Of Israel)

Usually it’s sad to see a country withdraw, especially so close to the event, and it’s undeniable that it is unfair that Michael Ben David wonโ€™t get his moment at Eurovision when the event is only weeks away. However, Israel’s participation in Eurovision is constantly in question, as they’ll often use it to show Israel positively (their hosting in 2019 caused much controversy because of this). Their reputation on the global stage isnโ€™t great due to their occupation and treatment of Palestine and many have already expressed their indifference to them not being a part of the 2022 contest, as it canโ€™t be used as a potential propaganda tool for the nation. However, they have already confirmed that they will be taking part in 2023, so it doesn’t look like they’ll be going away for long, even if we don’t see them in Italy this May. Local Media reports say that KAN are in talks to get Michael to Turin at least but only time will tell if we see him there.

What do you think of KANโ€™s current stance that they will not travel to Turin? Should they be allowed to use their Live On Tape? Do you think weโ€™ll see them at all taking part in May? Let us know in the comments!

To keep up to date on this news and other content in the lead up to ESC 2022, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.