Huge celebrations in Israel after Eurovision win

Israel's Netta Barzilai (centre) performs at a festive welcome concert in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on May 14, 2018.
Israel's Netta Barzilai (centre) performs at a festive welcome concert in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on May 14, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM • Even the Prime Minister of Israel made a flap in celebrating the country's win in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Mr Benjamin Netanyahu briefly broke out in a chicken dance in tribute to Netta Barzilai's triumph when he was on his way to a weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday. He replaced the Hebrew phrase for good morning, "boker tov", with "boker toy" in reference to the winning song called Toy.

Another bonus, he noted, "is that Eurovision will come to Jerusalem next year". The Eurovision winner hosts the event the following year.

Barzilai beat 25 other contestants with her uptempo song Toy, whose lyrics were inspired by the #MeToo movement. The 25-year-old, who wore a multi-coloured kimono, fleshed out her performance with trills, clucking sounds and chicken-like dance moves.

Her win also inspired crowds to break out in song in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, with many jumping in the fountain there, as well as at Jerusalem's main open-air market.

The victory is another huge endorsement for Barzilai, whose career took off in February when she landed first place on Israeli TV's talent show Rising Star.

Previously, she was seen mainly in clubs and private functions.

She said her selection as Israel's contestant at Eurovision was a form of validation after a childhood marked by teasing over her body, the repeated failure of diets and bouts of bulimia.

"The way I carry myself inside my own body, when I play with it, how I choose to present it" is her only concern, she told Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2018, with the headline 'Huge celebrations in Israel after Eurovision win'. Print Edition | Subscribe