Here’s a point that’s been made several times Saturday night on Israel media: with all the hoopla of the past few weeks, fewer than 10,000 tourists have arrived from Europe and elsewhere to watch the song contest. The production was a marvel of Israeli technological prowess, we’ve been told, but considering the investment, the response had to count as an abysmal failure in terms of attracting people to visit Israel.
Meanwhile, this coming Thursday, more than one million people are going to rush Mt. Meron (elevation: 3,624 feet) for the celebration of Lag B’Omer – with zero investment in promotions. And one thing is certain: the singer Madonna will not be on hand, with or without Palestinian flags.
The mega-star finally showed up in Tel Aviv, with a backup choir of 35 singers and 30 dancers, who still couldn’t drown out the fact that she was singing out of tune. Oh, and her dancers carried on their backs images of the Israeli and Palestinian flags. So much nachas… The Daily Mail called her “tone deaf.” The jackets, the singer explained, were her way of using the show to create “a new path toward peace.” Because nothing brings peace like show clothes that upset both sides.
She also messed with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) who protested her entire appearance, which they say they had never approved: “This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared with the EBU and the host broadcaster, KAN. The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”
By the way, in case you didn’t follow last night’s cosmic event, Israel took 23rd place, out of 24 finalists. Israeli representative to the Eurovision Kobi Marimi told Reshet Bet Sunday morning that he was proud of his performance at the finals.
“I’m proud of what we did. It all accumulated into that evening which for me that ended up perfectly,” the singer said, betraying a lack of understanding of terms such as “contest” and “winning.”
Marimi was asked if he was disappointed with 23rd place and said that it did not matter to him. “All along, I said that victory for me would be to get off the stage and say ‘I did it’ and I am complete with what I have done, and I think that’s why I cried, because that’s all I wanted,” he said.
Yes, he broke down in tears at the end of his performance of the single Home.
“I continued to cry after I left the stage, and the whole delegation cried, and then I shouted, ‘What an emotional bunch we are,'” he said on radio.
Duncan Lawrence from the Netherlands won first place with his song “Arcade,” with 492 points. The Italian singer got 465 points, the Russian 369. Kobi Marimi took 47 points. We would have cried, too, and we’re not an emotional bunch in the least.
On Sunday morning, Ha’aretz ran an op-ed calling for the cancellation of Lag B’Omer: “The Israeli Fire Festival is bad in every way – aesthetically, safety-wise, environmental and national. The stench of smoke causes thousands to shut themselves up in their homes, but even after they wake up to the sight of scorched fields, severed trees and plundered construction sites, the loathers of Lag B’Omer keep silent, as if behind this night of flames lies an ancient, deep and important tradition.”
In case you didn’t know, Lag B’Omer night is the most popular community even across Israel. Kids grab wood for their bonfires from everywhere, then set the fire and sing, while roasting potatoes on skewers. It stands to reason that Haaretz would object to it because it’s one of those few precious occasions when the entire nation living freely in its homeland is engaged in the same celebration – and no one has to tell them to do it. They do it because it’s so much fun and it’s what the community does, young, old, religious, secular.
This year, fellow Jews, save up your stashed copies of Haaretz – they make foe excellent starter.