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Tel Aviv Beats Out Jerusalem for 2019 Eurovision

2018-9-16

The Eurovision Song Contest says the singing competition will be held next year in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

Israel automatically became the host country after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. The hugely popular event moves to the home country of the winner from year to year.

Barzilai won the 2018 contest in Lisbon, Portugal with “Toy,” a dance song about women’s empowerment.

The European Broadcasting Union, EBU, operates Eurovision and chooses the city where the event is to be held. EBU officials had also considered two other cities, Jerusalem and Eilat, for the 2019 competition.

EBU chief Jon Ola said in a statement that the two cities and Tel Aviv all had provided good bids for hosting the contest. He added: “In the end, we decided that Tel Aviv provides the best overall setup for the world's largest live music event.”

The mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, welcomed the decision, calling Eurovision “a perfect fit” for his city. “We are looking forward to host a joyful and nonstop event in the spirit of Tel Aviv,” he said.

In this Monday, May 14, 2018 photo, Israelis watch Israeli Singer Netta Barzilai who won the 2018 Eurovision song contest as she performs at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo)
In this Monday, May 14, 2018 photo, Israelis watch Israeli Singer Netta Barzilai who won the 2018 Eurovision song contest as she performs at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo)

At first, Israel’s government called on the EBU to choose Jerusalem as the host city. But it later backed off after threats of boycotts from groups that opposed Jerusalem as the choice.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967 after the Six-Day War against the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. But Jerusalem is not internationally recognized as the capital. Today, Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians want to make east Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In December 2017, the United States announced it had decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Many political and religious leaders around the world condemned that decision.

The day after the 2018 Eurovision contest ended, the United States officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestinian-led Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS group, carries out campaigns targeting Israel’s economy and culture. The organization had urged boycotts of the Eurovision contest no matter where it was held in Israel.

An open letter by the group in June said a boycott would be a way to pressure Israel to obey “international law and to respect the human rights of Palestinians.”

Tel Aviv officials say they expect around 20,000 visitors to come to the city for the 2019 song contest. Eurovision organizers have set the contest semifinals for May 14 and 16, followed by the final on May 18.

I’m Lucija Millonig.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story is based on reports from the Associated Press and other sources. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

bid n. an attempt to achieve something

joyful adj. very happy

no matterphrase an expression meaning something is unimportant

automaticallyadj. happening or being done without thought or effort