NEW YORK CITY (JTA) — For the fourth time in its four decades of participating in the Eurovision song contest, Israel has won the international competition. The song “Toy” by Netta Barzilai, 24, secured Israel’s victory at the Eurovision contest this year at the Finals Saturday in Lisbon, Portugal. The victory means Israel will host the event next year. Barzilai’s song is a warning to a boy not to treat her like a toy.
Israel’s song, which is performed in English, has consistently been ranked on betting sites in first place or at least in the top three at the festival, a popular phenomenon in Europe that combines elements of “American Idol”-style song competitions and the Olympic Games. The score is determined by points given by the contest’s official juries and by callers. “Toy” won the match with a combined score of 529 points, giving it a huge lead of 93 points over Cyprus, which came in second, and a 187-point lead over Austria in third place. The score for “Toy”was the fourth-highest in the contest’s history.
The track by Barzilai, whose stage name is Netta, is about female empowerment and was inspired by the #MeToo movement, she has said.“The song has an important message,” she is quoted as telling the Daily Express before winning the contest, which features artists from dozens of countries in and around Europe, plus Australia.
Speaking about the chicken noises she makes during the song, she told Wiwibloggs: “The noises are supposed to imitate the voices of a coward — a chicken. Someone who doesn’t act the way he/she feels and treats you like a toy.”
The three Israeli songs that had won the contest before “Toy” — “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” in 1978, “Hallelujah” in 1979 and Dana International’s “Diva” in 1998 — were sung in Hebrew.