WATCH: Israel’s Eurovision winner gets anti-occupation makeover

A new video parodying Netta Barzilai’s ‘Toy,’ which won this year’s Eurovision contest, criticizes Israelis for celebrating in Tel Aviv as Palestinians just an hour away are being killed by IDF snipers.

Netta Barzilai, winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest, preforms at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, May 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Netta Barzilai, winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest, preforms at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, May 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Last week three major events occurred in Israel and Palestine. Israel gunned down 60 demonstrators in Gaza as the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated, while tens of thousands of Israelis packed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to celebrate singer Netta Barzilai’s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest. Barzilai had just returned from Lisbon, where she won the annual song competition with her song “Toy,” a pop take down of macho culture, replete with feminist overtones and an irresistible chicken dance.

The song has become a sensation, but not everybody is singing along. A few days ago, Dutch comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries spoofed Barzilai’s video, replacing her lyrics with ones that harshly criticize Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. The Israeli Embassy in the Netherlands lodged an official complaint in response to the Dutch lampoon, claiming that some of the imagery it shows is anti-Semitic.

Nor are all Israelis joining celebrating the Eurovision victory. At Rabin Square, a small group of left-wing activists held a silent vigil to commemorate the deaths in Gaza, for which they were harassed and attacked by passersby. On Wednesday, an Israeli named Adi Granot uploaded her own Toy parody to her personal Facebook page. Like de Vries, Granot replaces Toy’s original words with sardonic lyrics in Hebrew, hinting at the absurdities of holding major celebrations in Tel Aviv even as Palestinians just an hour south are being cut down by Israeli snipers [watch the original Hebrew version here].

“Take a look — a democratic state / Here and there, another Gazan is taken down / And I’m at the square, what do I care? / Boom boom boom boom.”

The chorus continues:

“Because there’s no occupation / There’s no despair / Only a closure without electricity or water / Come to the fence, we will redeem you quickly.”

Granot’s video employs the song as a soundtrack accompaniment to news footage of violence meted out by Israeli forces against Palestinians, juxtapose with scenes of Israelis celebrating and politicians honoring Barzilai’s victory.

Granot wrote Wednesday on her Facebook wall that she wrote her cover of the “excellent song” in the hope that it will shine a light on the “incomprehensible gap” between the celebrations and the shame she feels over Israel’s actions in the occupied territories.

“Last Monday we crossed a new red line, and not only because we killed 60 Gaza demonstrators who were not really a security threat, but also because somehow we succeeded in repressing the injustice and going to celebrate ourselves and our country in the square,” Granot wrote on her Facebook page.

“The indifference, repression, and evil that we grew during a half-century of occupation that robbed the Palestinians of their humanity and rights and destroyed our society were especially jarring that day. But it is impossible to separate them from what has happened in Gaza in recent weeks, including the fact that we have been exercising military control over millions of people in the occupied territories for 51 years.”