'Next time in Jerusalem': Netta politicised her own victory and whitewashed Israel's brutal occupation

'Next time in Jerusalem': Netta politicised her own victory and whitewashed Israel's brutal occupation
Israeli icon Netta has attempted to brand her Eurovision win as a victory for diversity, but she has remained silent on the suffering of millions of Palestinians.
3 min read
17 May, 2018
Netta Barzilai's 'next time in Jerusalem' comment after winning sparked outrage [Getty]

On Sunday, Israel won the Eurovision song contest.

Netta Barzilai's catchy tune and quirky chicken dance helped propel her to victory in the competition, but the Israeli singer made a hugely controversial declaration during her victory speech. "Next time in Jerusalem," she shouted.

Her victory sparked heated debate on social media, with calls to strengthen the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS), a movement that calls for an end to Israeli oppression of Palestinians through direct action and pressure.

Others politely urged Barzilai not mix politics with music, due to the controversial status of Jerusalem, which Israel claims as its capital, despite almost all the world rejecting this status.

Eurovision has been described as soft cultural tool to help bring Europe together after many troubled years. Once a year, Europeans are glued to their television screens as they enjoy music, scrutinise the contenders, and watch in suspense as one nation is crowned winner.

But the origins of Eurovision remain political and whilst it isn't necessarily wrong for people to do so, countries vote on the merit of nationalism, rather than talent.

Past watching the acts, once the voting lines become active and countries start rewarding points to others, the competition turns into a play on geopolitical loyalties and tensions.

The feminism behind her song was political and naturally sparked a discussion on sexual harassment. She served in the Israeli army in 2014, when Israel conducted its massacre on Gaza - killing thousands of civilians.

Whilst it is common protocol to not mix art and music with politics, with the statement "next time in Jerusalem" Netta politicised her own victory.

Her statement, in the context of the current frenzy surrounding the contested city - along with Israel quietly annexing East Jerusalem - recognised to be Palestinian under international law, clearly justified an illegal project. It is one that Palestinians are forced to suffer the consequences of.

The vast majority of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem are living in poverty and have to deal with the anxiety of their city slowly being annexed by Israel's occupation putting them in constant fear of homelessness, if they haven't been made so already.

Four-out-of-five of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live below the poverty line, and applying for building permits comes with various taxes and fees amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

Because of this, only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits have been allocated to Palestinian neighbourhoods in the past few years.

Applications for building permits are also known to take years to be processed. It gives Israeli courts a loophole to increase Palestinian home demolitions by branding homes, shops and other structures crucial for the survival of Palestinians - living under a brutal occupation - as "illegal".

Yet Netta, whose song was before the competition branded as Eurovision's social justice anthem, remained silent while she allowed herself to become a puppet for state propaganda and an enabler of ruthless policy decision.

Netta's victory was always going to be politicised, and she knew it. She used this to her advantage to try and normalise the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem,  rather than to advance the feminist message of her song by advocating against sexual harassment for all women.

This includes Palestinian women who are left vulnerable to many forms of harassment and abuse - including sexual - by the Israeli state she represents and the army she served.

Celebrating Netta's victory because it is "only Eurovision" is clearly not something she wanted.

She used a strong message of diversity and acceptance to whitewash her country's crimes in the contested city and the occupation, besiegement and the imposition of dystopia on the Palestinian people.