Israelis Rejoice As Netta Barzilai’s ‘Toy’ Wins Eurovision Song Contest
May 13, 2018 | Israel won the annual Eurovision song contest for the first time since 1998 as singer Netta Barzilai clucked her way to first place in the 63rd year of the international song contest with her female empowerment hit “Toy” for the #MeToo era. “I feel super honored to be here…to be on this stage. To have changed a little bit the world. To show something different in front of 200 million people,” she excitedly told a reporter in her first reaction after winning the competition. “For the majority to choose me is groundbreaking,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. “Next year in Jerusalem,” she shouted, to applause. Moments later, Barzilai received a phone call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who told her she was Israel’s “best ambassador.” Later, the singer told a press conference in Lisbon that “I believe authenticity passes through,” when asked how she stacked up against other competitors, particularly singer Eleni Foureira from Cyprus who became the favorite in the final week of the conference. Barzilai had been the fan favorite until that point and it was a majority of votes from viewers that helped her win the competition above Cyprus and Austria in second and third place. The 25-year old Barzilai, originally from Hod Hasharon, has been praised for her realness, confidence, and talent. Answering Hebrew questions later on Barzilai said, “Israel deserves a reason to celebrate,” before talking about how much she loved her country. Israelis gathered in Rabin Square to celebrate the victory, with some even jumping into a fountain and singing the Israeli national anthem Hatikva. Later, Barzilai promised she would be at the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, taking place on June 8. Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 41 times since making its debut in 1973. It has won the contest four times, with the last win from Dana International with her song “Diva” in 1998. Barzilai’s victory, Israel’s fourth in the contest, comes 20 years later.