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.
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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