ISRAEL have been no strangers to using Eurovision politically in the past, using pinkwashing to make their international image into a gay-friendly paradise. However this year this ramped up hugely, with a song originally called "October Rain" (later rewritten with minimal changes to be "Hurricane") about the deadly Hamas attacks of October 7 2023, a heinous atrocity that is used as a ongoing justification for atrocities being carried out in Gaza.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) originally rejected the song as overtly political but were forced to back down when Israel's president Isaac Herzog (below) intervened (which doesn't exactly aid their claim of being non-political). All this while Israel continued military action across the Gaza strip from Gaza City to Rafah, causing many examples of what Amnesty International and even members of the UN have called war crimes.

The National: The President of Israel Isaac Herzog has called the BBC coverage of the conflict in the Middle East ‘atrocious’ and a ‘distortion of the facts’ (Justin Tallis/PA)

READ MORE: Eurovision final: Footage shows Israel's Eden Golan booed in stadium

In 2022, Russia were unceremoniously booted out of Eurovision following their invasion of Ukraine, with the EBU releasing a statement saying this was done to prevent the contest being brought into disrepute. So, there is precedent. Yet this has not happened this year with Israel. Eurovision maintains the line it is a non-political event but this has always been a meaningless disclaimer; it is simply a matter of what politics has the right to be considered political.

One example of how hollow this claim of apoliticism rings is that while sentiments of support for Israel were all but encouraged in and around this year's contest, the same cannot be said for sentiments of support for Palestine. Palestinian flags were banned, with artists and attendees both being checked carefully to prevent any being brought into the venue. Fake cheering was apparently played into the broadcast mix to try and drown out any boos around the Israeli entry (something that had been first used in 2015 to hide the audience's hostility towards Russia's Polina Gagarina after Russia passed its anti-gay law).

The National: Eric Saade performs the song Popular during the opening of the first semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden (Martin Meissner/AP)

Most notably, artist Eric Saade, a half-Palestinian Swedish singer who earned his home country third place in 2011 with the song Popular, was condemned by the EBU for wearing a keffiyeh that he had received from his father while performing in the opening of semi final one, despite it being his heritage ... akin a Scot wearing a kilt. The message seemed clear: Being Palestinian at all is considered unacceptably political.

This has not been limited to just happening outside of the venue. Contestants have spoken out since the end of the contest, condemning the EBU and the Israeli delegation for creating a deeply unpleasant and outright hostile environment for them this year, with Ireland's outspokenly pro-Palestine queer artist Bambie Thug being one notable example. They were banned by the EBU from having "Ceasefire" written on their chin in Ogham script, but this alongside condemnations of Israel's hostilities in Gaza, meant they earned a lot of negative attention from the Israeli delegation and supporters online. The internet was awash on Saturday night with Israeli voices and right-wing demagogues mocking them for placing just below Israel, using homophobic and transphobic language in the process.

The Israeli delegation became known for recording and harassing any artists that either were or were perceived as anti-Israel, and despite Bambie and others including Greece's Marina Satti complaining to the EBU and the EBU agreeing this was against the rules, no action was taken. These artists had to witness Eden Golan repeatedly talking about being the victim of hateful attention, all while being reportedly subjected to it themselves by Eden's delegation and supporters. The atmosphere was so grim before the final that several national spokespeople withdrew, including last year's runner-up Käärijä (below).

The National:

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All of this added up a tense atmosphere that was generally invisible to the cameras and those at home, bar the booing for Martin Österdahl, whose position now seems untenable. In the end, despite a massive televote for Israel that seemed entirely out of proportion to the song itself and aided by support from figures who normally would pour scorn on the contest like the Netherlands' Geert Wilders, Israel did not win and we got a glorious winner.

However, with the overnight assault in Gaza drowned out in the news by Eurovision coverage, Israeli government figures speaking about how the televote for Eden Golan shows Europe supports Israel's Gaza offensive, and queer Lithuanian contestant Silvester Belt tweeting how this year's contest has left him traumatised it is very clear that, in the words of winner Nemo themself after their win, "maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing".