Israel’s Greatest Hits in Eurovision

A few months ago we talked about the best pop-hits of Israeli music. In that article, we mentioned a few songs that won the 1st place at the Eurovision contest. But since we are very close to the next Eurovision music contest that will take place in Tel Aviv, we want to take this opportunity to remember those extraordinary songs that actually won the contest in previous editions.

Be ready, because we’re sure you know most of these songs. Most likely, you’ll start either dancing or singing along… so bring your family over and get them to sing with you, it will be even funnier.

As you know, but your kids might not know, “Toy” wasn’t the first Israeli song to win this contest, so here we give you a selection of all the winners ever. Ready to dance? Here we go!

When and how many times did Israel win Eurovision?

Although the first edition of the Eurovision contest was in May 1956 (while Israel was in the middle of the Sinai war), the first participation of our small country in this musical contest was only in 1973. According to Wikipedia, Israel was able to enter the contest because the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) became a member of the European Broadcasting Union, which is responsible for the event.

But, who won the contest and which ones are the songs that made half the world speak Hebrew without even noticing?

Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta

It was in 1978, only 5 years after Israel first participated in Eurovision when Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta traveled to Paris and sang the huge hit A-Ba-Ni-Bi. The song was so addictive, fun, and successful that the band got the highest number of points and brought the trophy back home. Not only that, since they were the winners, the contest took place in Jerusalem the year after, and guess what? Yes. We won again!

Hallelujah! The new Israeli anthem?

It was in Jerusalem, a year after the glorious victory in Paris. The singer? Gali Atari. The band? Milk and Honey. The song? Hallelujah! This anthem-like song won the title in a very tight competition against Spain’s “Su Canción”. The success of Hallelujah was so huge, that there are some rumors insisting that some big players in politics even thought about changing Israel’s anthem “HaTikvah” to this new, happy, hopeful song. Can you imagine?!

In any case, Hallelujah has become an anthem. Jewish communities all around the world and the entire country of Milk and Honey sings along Hallelujah every single time it appears on the radio, the TV, or most certainly in our days, on YouTube.

Ready to sing?

What a Diva: Conquering the United Kingdom

And only half of the time our people spent in the desert is the amount of time we had to wait to win again. It wasn’t until 1998 when Dana International conquered the hearts of the UK with the song “Diva”. After Macedonia gave their 12 points to Croatia, leaving Israel’s song with 174 points, the winner was clear.

20 years after our last Eurovision trophy, Dana International succeeded bringing it back home.

I’m not your toy!

And once again, Israel had to wait another 20 years to win again. This time, the celebrations took place in Lisbon, and the song that caused them became a huge success and revolution around the world. Neta Barzilay, defending equal rights and literally yelling for gender abuse to stop, created an extraordinary song that gave Israel another Eurovision trophy to be proud of.

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Not only that! On this occasion, Israel won with the highest score ever. Neta brought home a score of 529 points, making an entire country extremely happy and proud.

Bonus track: Who’s representing Israel in 2019?

Meet Kobi! This very talented singer from lovely Ramat Gan will be representing Israel in the Eurovision festival, which will take place in Tel Aviv.

In case you know some tourists coming to Israel during Eurovision and don’t know what to do in the white city, we recommend this plan for them to spend a great 48 hours in Tel Aviv.

Well, if you want to meet Kobi and his great song to start practicing the lyrics right away, then click the play button and begin right now.

Learn Hebrew today and understand these songs’ lyrics

Register for one of our online, live Hebrew courses today and start learning the language of our ancestors. You’ll be able to understand what these songs really mean, to better know the kind of Israelis you’ll meet on your next visit to Israel, and to better enjoy your experience when facing texts in Hebrew, or when coming to visit our beautiful country.

Anyone can learn! Don’t be afraid! We have experienced teachers that are here with just one big goal: help you learn Hebrew. Are you ready to give it a go?


About the author

Arie Elbelman R.Arie was born and raised in Chile, and immigrated to Israel in his early twenties. He wants to take an active role in the development of this young and smart country. Arie believes that the best way to shape our present and future is to live with more horizontal hierarchies, to smile a whole lot, and to always, always respect each other.

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