‘The Power of the Unicorn’: Israel Haters Use Eurovision Song Contest To Bash Jewish State
by Akiva Van Koningsveld
Five years after Netta Barzilai’s “Toy” brought the Jewish state its fourth Eurovision victory, and exactly half a century since the country first joined, another Israeli contestant has taken Europe’s extravagant musical competition by storm.
On Tuesday, pop star Noa Kirel’s energetic performance of “Unicorn” gathered enough votes to proceed to the final, which will take place in Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena on Saturday, May 13.
While Sweden’s Loreen has a strong lead at the bookies, with a predicted winning chance of 49 percent, Kirel’s popularity on social media suggests that a Saturday surprise is still possible. As of Thursday, the live rendition of “Unicorn” was viewed over 1.6 million times on YouTube, surpassing Loreen’s “Tattoo” by 200,000. On the official Eurovision TikTok page, Israel’s video broke records with 7.3 million views.
Sadly, the song contest once again coincides with a security escalation in Israel’s south. Just hours before Kirel was set to compete in the semi-final, the Israel Defense Forces announced Operation Shield and Arrow in response to Islamic Jihad rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. As of Thursday afternoon, the genocidal terrorist organization had launched over 550 rockets at civilians, with some projectiles reaching as far as Tel Aviv.
Kirel has carefully avoided making political comments during public appearances, but has not hidden the fact that she is proud to represent the “advanced and incredible” Jewish state and striven to “put Judaism [at] the forefront” in her vocals. One line in “Unicorn,” which also contains some lyrics in Hebrew, asks, “Do you wanna check my DNA?,” which Kirel has said is a reference to the global rise in antisemitic hate crimes.
The avalanche of abuse Israel received online made Kirel’s statement in Liverpool all the more meaningful.
For instance, a popular Palestinian Twitter account by the name of @tiredpali went viral with a tweet that effectively promoted a modern-day anti-Jewish blood libel.
The post, which was retweeted by almost 1,500 other tweeps, implied that the IDF purposely “kill[s] children and women” and dishonestly compared Israel’s precision strikes on terror targets in Gaza to Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Another user took the libel even further, claiming Israel was “blowing the arms and legs off Palestinian children” during the semi-final.
Just flicked over to BBC1 while channel surfing to find the Israeli contingent to the Eurovision Song Contest cavorting on stage and waving their apartheid flags while their airforce is currently blowing the arms and legs off Palestinian children in Gaza.
— Ragged Trousered Philanderer (@RaggedTP) May 9, 2023
In a similar Twitter post that received over 3,500 likes, Irish musician Jim Sheridan falsely depicted the Jewish state’s defensive actions against Palestinian terror groups as somehow being part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing. “I love #EUROVISION but I think having Israel as part of the competition when they are carrying out State sponsored ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people is disgraceful,” the performer, who once helped pick Dublin’s submission to Eurovision, wrote. His boycott call received approval from, among others, British actor Steve Wall and Sinn Féin politician Enda Fanning.
For his part, West Bank-based Palestinian journalist and activist Younis Tirawi called Israel a “trojan horse,” an obvious play on the title of Noa Kirel’s Eurovision entry, while conspiratorially claiming that the nation’s participation was a covert attempt to “pinkwash” its alleged “massacre” of children in the Gaza Strip.
As HonestReporting has noted previously, the pinkwashing accusation evokes historical antisemitic libels, specifically that anything Jews do that is good or beneficial must be a part of some nefarious ulterior motive.
Meanwhile, another recurring theme in social media users’ responses to “Unicorn” was the contention that Israel shouldn’t be part of Eurovision because it is a Middle Eastern country, and the Palestinians are not allowed to participate. However, unlike Israel, the Palestinian Authority has never been an active member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). A 2007 bid to join the song contest failed — possibly due to the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation’s incessant incitement against Israel and the Jewish people — and the Palestinians subsequently withdrew their associate membership of the EBU.
“An’lo kmo kulam, mul kol ha’olam. I got the power of a unicorn. Don’t you ever learn? That I won’t look back, I won’t look down.”
Noa Kirel’s hit song is about the power to be yourself while the world treats you like an outcast. When will Israel’s detractors learn?