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Pushing The Wrong Buttons

The knives are out for this year’s Israeli Eurovision Song Contest entry. It seems singing a warning about the dangers of nuclear war is just not on.

Eurovision Song Contest organizers said Thursday they might ban this year’s Israeli entry, Teapacks’ Push the Button, because of what they termed its inappropriate political message.

The song, to be performed at the contest in Helsinki in May, overwhelmingly won Israel’s competition Wednesday.

It is sung in English, French and Hebrew and seemingly refers indirectly to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its hard-line leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“It’s absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition,” said Kjell Ekholm, an organizer of the contest. “We’ll have all the delegation leaders here in Helsinki next week, and I’m sure we’ll talk about this case within the EBU [European Broadcasting Union] group.”

The song warns about the dangers of nuclear war, and the lyrics of the song refer to demonic and crazy rulers, and say that he’s gonna blow us up to … kingdom come.

Ahmadinejad’s recent anti-Semitic statements have added to fears in Israel that Iran’s nuclear program is intended to produce weapons that could be used against that country.

As opposed to songs about demons, which will win you the contest.

Wings on my back
I got horns on my head
My fangs are sharp
And my eyes are red
Not quite an angel
Or the one that fell
Now choose to join us or go straight to Hell

Update: Here’s the Teapacks song.

Update: The Independent have a (fair) report on the controversy.

Kjell Ekholm, an organiser of the contest, said: “It’s absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition.” But the threat may say as much about Eurovision’s dogged preference for the bland at all costs as about the song itself.

The band’s lead singer Kobi Oz, who is of Tunisian extraction, and is known for his witty and enigmatic lyrics, comes from Sderot, which has born the brunt of Qassam rockets from Gaza, and as a member of a Jewish family from an Arab country is a leading exponent of “Mizrahi cool”.

Another verse says: “Messages are exploding on me/ Rockets are flying and landing on me.” But the song also takes a swipe at the country’s own politics as well as security threats, saying Israelis are caught between “political tricks and kidnapping”.

The song also deliberately projects itself as a counterpoint to the anodyne lyrics of previous Eurovision entries, from Israel as well as other countries. In one section, the band sing: “Here we are in the pre-finals with a song that isn’t about salaam [Arabic for peace], red is not just a colour, it’s more like blood.”

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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