TEL AVIV – While Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest contestant Hovi Star secured 14th place in Saturday’s competition, an unofficial representative of the Jewish state, the French contestant and Israeli citizen Amir Haddad, made it to number six.
Ukraine’s Jamala took first place with her song, “1944,” whose lyrics include references to strangers coming to “kill you all” – referring to Josef Stalin’s deportation of ethnic Muslim Tatars from Crimea during World War II.
Even though Israel didn’t make it into the top ten, Star didn’t think the contest was a total waste of time.
“We feel great. Israel got 12 points from Germany, and that’s something that hasn’t happened since 2005,” Star told the Ynet news site from the contest’s host city of Stockholm.
“Thank you to everyone for the support. We’re happy.”
Meanwhile, France’s “J’ai cherché,” sung by Israeli dentist Amir Haddad, was a hit with the judges and audience.
A veteran of televised singing competitions, the French-born Israeli competed in Israel’s 2006 season of the reality series A Star is Born as well as France’s The Voice.
Below is the clip for Haddad’s song, which has garnered well over 2 million views on YouTube.
Israel has not won the competition since 1998, when transgender singer Dana International broke records with the song, “Diva.”
The winning song from Ukraine caused controversy for being political – despite competition rules prohibiting any political entries.
Russia took second place and was followed by Australia.
The show was broadcast live in Europe, China, Kazakhstan, Australia, New Zealand, and, for the first time, the United States.