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June 12, 2018 4:28 pm

Eurovision Winner Netta Barzilai Tells Israel’s Boycotters: ‘Hate and Revenge Won’t Lead to Anything’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Israel’s Netta Barzilai performs after winning the 2018 Eurovision song contest at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2018. Reuters / Pedro Nunes.

The winner of this year’s Eurovision singing competition, Israel’s Netta Barzilai, has a message for those supporting boycotts of the Jewish state.

“Boycotting, hate and revenge won’t lead to anything,” she told the UK’s Jewish Chronicle, in an interview published on Monday. “It leads nowhere. Talking, speaking and communicating leads somewhere. Boycotting doesn’t help.”

She added, “[Israel] deserves all the tourists. I think people should come and enjoy our amazing country. I’ve lived in it for 25 years and I still think it’s the best place in the entire world.”

Eurovision is held annually in the home country of the previous year’s winner. The competition was held in Jerusalem in 1979 and 1999, and The Algemeiner previously reported that there have already been calls by some people to boycott next year’s contest.

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Barzilai said she typically tries to not talk about politics, specifically the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but she thinks her Eurovision win “has made so many hearts come closer.” She also told The Jewish Chronicle, “If I speak politically about whatever opinion that I have, it will ruin it, it will ruin the winning for someone. It [the winning] is everybody’s. Everybody needs to be happy about it, everybody deserves to be happy about it. So I try for myself and for everybody else to keep myself out of it. And this is very right and true because I am a musician. It’s not my job.”

The “Toy” singer said she had not planned on competing in Eurovision or even winning for that matter. She described herself as just a “struggling musician, hoping for a couple of gigs.”

The musician explained that in the past she was told to wear black clothing during her performances, which would be slimming, “show more soul, sing bigger” and only sing tracks by Aretha Franklin or Adele. She added that this is expected of “bigger singers” and she followed these rules until she the age of 18 or 19. Then she realized she wanted to do what made her happy.

“I wanted to do pop music, and I wanted to dance,” she told The Jewish Chronicle. “I wanted all this because that was me. This is my inner performer, that is what it wants, this is what my heart wants. And I decided to follow it, although people, society — told me I couldn’t…My presence and my voice on stage, it sends a clear message that you can do whatever you want in your life, break barriers, stigmas — be the new standard. When I won I realized I can do something really good for a lot of people, for self-esteem, for empowerment.”

Barzilai also told The Jewish Chronicle that she would be releasing new music in “a few months.”

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