Advertisement

‘Palestinian Lady Gaga’ tipped to sing in Eurovision

Bashar Murad, 31, said he did not want 'my occupier' Israel to participate in the competition
Bashar Murad, 31, said he did not want 'my occupier' Israel to participate in the competition - David Corio/Redferns

A singer known as the “Palestinian Lady Gaga” is in line to take part in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which risks being overshadowed by the Israel-Hamas war.

Bashar Murad, whose hits include Intifada on the Dance Floor, has vowed to bring “a Palestinian voice” to the kitsch extravaganza, if he wins a public vote in Iceland to compete on behalf of the country.

Eurovision has strict rules to prevent political content in the contest and could disqualify an entry it deems to break the rule.

Eden Golan will represent Israel in the contest with a song called October Rain
Eden Golan will represent Israel in the contest with a song called October Rain - REUTERS

Organisers are scrutinising Israel’s entry October Rain, which is being sung by 20-year-old Eden Golan.

It is feared the lyrics of the ballad might not be solely about the weather but a veiled reference to Hamas’s Oct 7 attack on Israel.

When asked if he wants Israel to participate in the competition, Murad, 31 said, “Of course, I don’t want my occupier to be there.

“But my main focus right now is to be able to bring, for the first time in history, a Palestinian voice to the main stage.”

Bashar Murad, in Ramallah, West Bank, where part of his music video is filmed
Bashar Murad, in Ramallah, West Bank, where part of his music video is filmed - David Corio/Redferns

He has entered with a song called Wild West, which is a cowboy-themed number, ostensibly about freedom.

The music video contains numerous references to his homeland. In it, he drives through orange groves on the West Bank before flying over the separation barrier and looking down at Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem.

After landing in an Icelandic-style snowy landscape, two cowboy versions of the singer, who was born in and lives in East Jerusalem, duel each other.

One, in an apparent metaphor for Israel, is dressed in black and armed with a gun. While the other, presumably representing Palestinians, is dressed in white and armed with a snowball.

The Icelandic public will vote on whether or not Murad goes forward to represent the country in the Eurovision finals in Malmo, Sweden, on May 11.

Icelandic band Hatari with Palestinian colours at the 2019 Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv
Icelandic band Hatari with Palestinian colours at the 2019 Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv

He is competing in Saturday’s national final with a song co-written by Einar Stefansson from the Icelandic band Hatari, which raised a banner showing Palestinian flags in the 2019 Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv.

Eurovision’s ban on political songs has come under pressure before. Russia was banned from Eurovision in 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine.

Officials in Malmo are preparing for demonstrations if Israel, which has won the competition four times, sends an entry.

‘Not a contest between governments’

More than 1,000 Swedish musicians have written an open letter calling for Israel to be banned. Finnish and Irish campaigners have demanded their public broadcasters support the ban.

“It is not a contest between governments,” Noel Curran, the director-general of the European Broadcasters Union, which organises the contest, said.