Israel’s Eurovision champ heads to Europe with empowerment message

Israeli 2018 Eurovision Song Contest winner Netta Barzilai poses for a photograph on November 03, 2018, in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. (AFP)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Israel’s Eurovision champ heads to Europe with empowerment message

  • Her winning song “Toy” became an anthem for others who, like her, have been bullied or made to feel like an outcast
  • Her upcoming tour, which begins on November 12, includes venues in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Britain, as well as a November 17 show at the Salle Wagram in Paris

TEL AVIV: With a multicolored kimono, clucking sounds and chicken-like dance moves, Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won over audiences with a hit inspired by the #MeToo movement to claim the Eurovision Song Contest.
Now as she sets off on her first European tour the pop star has told AFP in an interview that she aims to pass on a message of empowerment after overcoming her own self doubts.
Her winning song “Toy” became an anthem for others who, like her, have been bullied or made to feel like an outcast.
She has said her childhood was marked by teasing over her body and bouts of bulimia.
“We’re made to feel small in all kinds of situations. I don’t want to feel small anymore,” the 25-year-old said Saturday at her publicist’s apartment in Israel’s economic capital Tel Aviv.
“I want to empower and love, to be empowered and empower others. Because when we send out good energy, it comes back at us and makes the world a better place.”
Her upcoming tour, which begins on November 12, includes venues in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Britain, as well as a November 17 show at the Salle Wagram in Paris.
Articulate and intense, Barzilai said she applied for a spot representing Israel in 2018’s Eurovision in Lisbon because she was failing to make ends meet as an experimental musician.
“I knew nothing about Eurovision,” she confessed.
Before the contest shook up her life, Barzilai said, she and her band would “be paid in beer and basically jam.”
“I’d get drunk, sing on the tables, eat French fries off people’s plates and sing about them,” she recounted.
“I tried to get a job in music but was too unique to stand behind someone as a backing vocal or to sing in weddings.”
Barzilai’s mother pushed her to leave Tel Aviv and return to their home in central Israeli city Hod Hasharon and her father suggested she learn agronomy and join him in the family business.
In despair, she turned to an Israeli reality singing show, the winner of which would represent the country at Eurovision.
She never expected anything would come of the local exposure beyond maybe “getting gigs.”
But she eventually made it through and took her eccentric look and show to Lisbon, where her victory earned Israel the right to hold the 2019 Eurovision, which will take place in Tel Aviv.
Basking in the “superman powers” she received after her win, Barzilai can now return to Europe as a star with a repertoire blending her Eurovision fame and avant-garde roots.
There have been calls for artists to boycott next year’s Eurovision in Tel Aviv over Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, but Barzilai doesn’t think a boycott will solve anything.
“Instead of boycotting we should think how we can help, how to improve the situation,” she said.
“Tell me where to sing to solve the world’s problems and I’ll go.”
Unconcerned that the calls to stay away could harm next year’s event, she added: “I think it will be very happy here and those voices are small ones.”


King Salman receives outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

King Salman receives outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Flavio Marega in Riyadh on Wednesday. SPA
Updated 29 min ago
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King Salman receives outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

  • The reception at the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir

King Salman received on Wednesday outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Flavio Marega. 

The ambassador paid farewell to the king on the occasion of the end of his term as an ambassador of his country to the Kingdom.

The reception at the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.

Later, King Salman received senior officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, presidents of chambers of commerce, and a number of businessmen.

During the reception, the king stressed the important role of the private sector in achieving development goals in the Kingdom and raising the level of provided services.

The audience was attended by Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and Governor of Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization Saad bin Othman Al-Qasabi.