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.”


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 32 min 34 sec ago
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.