Israel Backtracks, Agrees to Change ‘October Rain’ Lyrics for Eurovision

The international music contest took issue with politically charged lines in the nation’s submission for the apolitical competition

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Israel has agreed to change the lyrics to the country’s most likely Eurovision 2024 song candidate. The Israeli broadcaster Kan had previously insisted it had “no intention to replace the song,” but on Sunday Kan said that it had asked the writers of the song “October Rain” to adjust the words while maintaining the integrity of the song.

Two lines in particular are at issue: “There’s no air left to breathe” and “They were all good children, each one of them.” Both are apparent references to people who spent hours in shelters on Oct. 7, 2023, as Hamas attacked Israelis at kibbutzim and an outdoor music festival.

Kan only agreed to the change after the country’s president Isaac Herzog made the request.

“The president emphasized that at this time in particular, when those who hate us seek to push aside and boycott the state of Israel from every stage, Israel must sound its voice with pride and its head high and raise its flag in every world forum, especially this year,” Kan said in a statement. Their full statement is below.

In late February, the European Broadcasting Union said it would consider disqualifying Israel from Eurovision if their song was too political. Euronews writer Sacha Roytman Dratwa, who is Israeli and Belgian and is also the CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement, took issue with the stance.

He wrote of the song, “No mention of politics or even overt mentions of the war Israel is waging against Hamas. It is little more than a ponderance on overcoming challenges and encapsulates the mood of many in the face of the single greatest loss of Jewish life since the end of the Holocaust.”

“Israel’s story cannot be silenced, just as we would not silence the stories of others,” Dratwa added.

In February, 400 actors, musicians and Hollywood executives signed a letter in support of Israel’s inclusion in this year’s Eurovision. Signees included Helen Mirren, Gene Simmons, Liev Schreiber, Scooter Braun, Boy George, Mayim Bialik, Sharon Osbourne and Debra Messing.

Kan explained in a statement, “The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation has been working in recent weeks to take the necessary steps to enable Israel’s participation in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.”

“Despite disagreements with the position of the Eurovision supervisory committee, which requested to disqualify the two songs submitted by Israel to the competition because they were ‘political,’ the Corporation adopted President Herzog’s advice to make necessary adjustments to enable Israel’s representation on the Eurovision stage.”

“The President said that precisely when our enemies seek to push and exclude the State of Israel from every stage, it is up to Israel to make its voice heard with pride and dignity and to raise its flag in every international forum, especially this year,” the statement concluded.

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