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Israel agrees to October Rain lyrics change

Israel’s public broadcaster has requested changes to the lyrics of a song submitted for this year’s Eurovision contest.

Organisers barred it last week for breaking rules on political neutrality.

Israeli broadcaster Kan had pledged not to alter the lyrics of October Rain – an apparent reference to the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.

But Israel’s President Isaac Herzog called for “necessary adjustments” to ensure Israel can enter the show.

Israel has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times before. This year’s event will be held in Sweden – who won last year’s content – in May.

Kan is in the process of choosing its entry, with October Rain the leading submission and Dance Forever in second place.

In a statement on Sunday, Kan said it had contacted the lyricists of both songs and asked them to “readapt the texts, while preserving their artistic freedom”.

President Herzog, it added, had “emphasised that it is precisely at a time when those who hate us are seeking to repress and boycott the State of Israel” that the country “must raise its voice” in international forums.

Last month, when the European Broadcasting Union said it was assessing the lyrics, Kan said it had “no intention to replace the song”.

Israel’s entry, to be performed by 20-year-old singer Eden Golan, is due be confirmed next Sunday.

The original lyrics of October Rain – written in English – were published on Kan’s website last month.

They include the lines “They were all good children, every one of them” and “Who told you boys don’t cry/ Hours and hours/ And flowers/ Life is not a game for the cowards.”

The reference to flowers was significant, according to Israel Hayom newspaper, as it often denotes war fatalities.

In previous years the EBU has forced national representatives to change their lyrics.

In 2009, Georgia withdrew from the event after its proposed entry – We Don’t Wanna Put In – was rejected for its obvious references to the Russian president.

Separately, musicians from other Eurovision countries have called for Israel to be suspended over the war in Gaza.

These include artists in Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, with several pointing out that Russia has been disqualified since its invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

So far, Eurovision organisers have resisted those calls, arguing that the situations in Ukraine and Gaza are different.

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