5 things you (probably) never knew about Israel and Eurovision…!

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

5 things you (probably) never knew about Israel and Eurovision…!

Why Israel DIDN'T host in 1980 - despite winning in 1979 - and other quirky facts ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

Kobi Marimi
Kobi Marimi

1. Israel’s not in Europe – so why does it take part in Eurovision? Actually, countries don’t have to be in Europe or the European Union to take part, as eligibility is not determined by geography. Several countries geographically outside Europe have competed, including Israel, Cyprus, Armenia, Australia and Morocco. Others that lie partly in Europe and another continent have also taken part, including Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbijan.

2. Israel first took part in 1973 and despite coming to the party 17 years after the contest first began, her entry still managed to achieve fourth place, just behind the UK’s Cliff Richard with Power To All Our Friends.

3. Israel didn’t host the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest – despite winning in 1979! Having just hosted the contest in Jerusalem, Israel declined due to the expense and also because the date coincided with Yom Hashoah, which fell that year on April 19. It was staged instead in the Netherlands.


4. Israel won in 1978 – but not according to Jordan! Just a month before Eurovision was held in Paris, IDF troops invaded Lebanon in Operation Litani, a military response to the Coastal Road Massacre, in which 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were killed and 71 were wounded by Palestinian terrorists. Following this conflict, Jordanian state broadcaster JRTV refused to show the Israeli entry and instead broadcast pictures of flowers. When it became apparent that Israel would win with A-Ba-Ni-Ba, sung by Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta, JRTV ended the transmission and afterwards Jordanian news outlets announced the winner as Belgium – which actually came second.

5. Fifth time lucky? A win this year would put Israel on equal footing with the UK, France and Luxembourg, which have each won five times, while Sweden has won six and Ireland an incredible seven times.

WATCH Dana International performing at this year’s semi-final as the interval act

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: