Tonight is not only the beginning of Shavuot (Pentacost) but the finals of Eurovision. And Israel is in the finals! If you are American, as most of my readers are, then you are saying, “What is Eurovision?”
Every year there is an event all across Europe called Eurovision and it is HUGE! Every country in Europe and parts of Asia submits a song and people from those countries vote for a winner. It all happens live. I watched it one year and to be honest, I found it very cheesy—not my cup of tea. But still, it is huge.
Amazingly, despite being one the smallest and most despised countries in the world, Israel has won this event three times. The first time was in 1978 with A-ba-ni-bi by Izhar Cohen & Alpha Beta. A cute song about love, but in Hebrew.
Israel took first place the following year with “Hallelujah” sung by Gali Atari and Milk & Honey. Not only was it in Hebrew but the word Hallelujah is maybe the most famous word from the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact it is two words. Hallelu is the second person, plural, command from of to praise. Yah is short for Yahweh—the name of God. In other words it is a command to praise Yahweh.
The next time Israel won, things had changed. Instead of an Israeli folk singer or band, we introduced the word to Dana (pronounced Donna) International—a transgender from age 13. Later he had a sex change. In 1998 his song “Diva” took the top price. It is a useless song whose only redeeming value is that is was sung in Hebrew on the world’s stage. It seems to me he won less because of the song and mostly because of his sex change.
This year’s final is tonight and Israel’s “Golden Boy” made the cut for the first time since 2010. “Golden Boy” is sung entirely in English by 16-year-old French immigrant Nadav Guedj. The only thing that connects the song to the Jewish State are the words Tel Aviv in the course. Other than that it is just a party song. And the reference to Tel Aviv seems to celebrate all that is bad about the city we serve. “Before you leave, let me show you Tel Aviv.”
Tel Aviv is a sinful city, considered the homosexual capital of the Middle East. One website describes Tel Aviv as:
…one of the world’s finest and friendliest GLBT travel destinations. Come experience Israel, where you can express yourself, indulge yourself, or just be yourself in cosmopolitan gay-friendly cities and resort towns… With a gay scene that competes with all gay capitals around the globe, an amazing beach, good weather, great food and other attractions in the country like Jerusalem and the Dead sea, Tel Aviv is definitely a place you should check out for your next trip.
What has me so sad today is that we, Israel, are called to a be light to the nations, not become like the nations. Our songs should be sung in Hebrew and celebrate our return to own land. We shouldn’t care at all if we win Eurovision, because we are not seeking the world’s approval. Instead we are releasing garbage like “Golden Boy” when in the past we had songs entitled, “Halelujah.”
One of the greatest struggles that the Jewish people have wrestled with since the time of the Judges is the temptation to be like the other nations. Jews are often accused of seeing themselves as superior, but the truth is most Israelis just want to be accepted by other peoples. But God has not called us to this.
Many Israelis struggle with a deep inferiority complex that comes from other nations hating you, persecuting you and telling you that you are an evil, apartheid nation. We seek to heal that wound by becoming like the nations—hoping for their approval. Don’t see me as Israeli singer, just see me a singer.
However true healing to our nation will only come when we embrace our call to be a lead nation, a light for the other nations. Leaders can’t care what others think about them, they simply have to govern by their principles. But sadly most of my people live in darkness. Whether it is the blindness of the atheistic, godlessness in Tel Aviv or the hyper Religiosity in Jerusalem, we need God to open our eyes. The day will come however when we will embrace our role and be who God has called us to be.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Once again I will yield to Israel’s plea and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed festivals. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ez. 36:27-28)