Israel wins Eurovision song contest

Netta Barzilai returned to Israel this morning after winning the Eurovision song contest on Saturday night.

Barzilai said after winning the competition: “I’m so happy. Thank you so much for choosing difference. Thank you so much for accepting differences between us. Thank you for celebrating diversity. Thank you. I love my country. Next time in Jerusalem.”

Thousands of people gathered at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market to celebrate on Saturday. The city’s iconic City Hall lit up with the word “TOY”.

Israel won 529 points in total, ahead of Cyprus’s 436 points and Austria’s 342. Twelve countries including France, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic and San Marino awarded Israel the maximum 12 points.

“We celebrated all night,” Barziali said as she landed at Ben Gurion International Airport. “We didn’t really go to sleep. This is a big moment, for us as a delegation (representing Israel) and as a country that doesn’t have a lot to be happy about these days. Throughout this journey, I’ve learned thought creates reality. I want to congratulate Israel for receiving the chance to host next year’s Eurovision in Jerusalem. It’s crazy … it is so much fun to know an event like the Eurovision will take place in Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Barzilai by phone minutes after her victory. He was later filmed walking into the weekly cabinet meeting mimicking Barzilai’s chicken dance move and greeted his cabinet colleagues saying”happy Toy morning”.

This is the fourth time Israel has won the Eurovision song contest. The last win was in 1998, with pop star Dana International’s “Diva”. Israel won twice in a row in 1978 and 1979 for “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” and then “Hallelujah”. Next year will be the third time Israel has hosted the competition in Jerusalem.