Sunday, May 13, 2018

Eurovision: Israel's "Toy" Not to be Pushed Around

Please don't think I posted this on Shiloh Musings, my "political/serious blog" by mistake. If you'll read the post, you'll understand.

Not everyone in Israel stayed up all night to follow the Eurovision final including the count which gave Israel's Netta first place. I woke up to the exciting news.

I got a real kick out of the costume Israel's Netta Barzalai chose to wear to sing her song "Toy" at Eurovision. Once I saw that she was wearing a Japanese style Geisha* girl outfit in the "semi-final," I saw more than a flaky, clucking, attention-getting performer. You shouldn't be surprised to know that I had never heard of Netta Barzalai before reading all sorts of negative things on news sites and social media. And it has also been years since I had paid any attention to to Eurovision or Israel's songs for it. Honestly I don't like this modern "music," which is more performance than anything I can sing and dance to.

Israel's first two Eurovision wins, which were consecutive, were lovely clean-cut, singable and dance-able tunes, Abanibi and Halleluya. Both suited the classic Israeli folk song/dance genre perfectly, including the chosen costumes. In the following years, Israel got a few good results, but didn't win again until Dana International, the most well-known transgender in the country pulled off first place. Since then nothing until last night.

It had been considered impossible with the anti-Israel sentiment/policy in Europe for Israel to get enough top votes to win, no matter how good the song/performance.

Apparently the "show" and lyrics of "Toy" broke the hold of the BDS and other anti-Israel groups.

I don't know if Netta and whoever is responsible for the lyrics and geisha get-up intended the extra/additional meaning I hear in her song.

noun: geisha; plural noun: geishas; plural noun: geisha; noun: geisha girl; plural noun: geisha girls

a Japanese hostess trained to entertain men with conversation, dance, and song.
The role of a geisha is to be a toy to entertain men who pay for their time and services, so the costume is brilliantly ironic. Add that to the obvious fact that Netta is a "big woman," plus size to put it mildly. It's clear that she won't starve herself into submission.

Davka, the timing of Eurovision this year is so siyata d'Shmaya, Hand of Gd. We in Israel are celebrating seventy  70 years of Independence and a half a century of our miraculous 1967 Six Days War victory which left us with all of Jerusalem in our hands.

Most of the world thinks of Israel as a "toy" of its making, because the United Nations voted its approval of the establishment of the state November 29, 1947. The declarations and policies against Israel, including the refusal to recognize Jerusalem as our Capital City are unprecedented, something that never happens to any other country.

The State of Israel is nobody's "toy." Today we are truly a world power, yes, little Israel. Tomorrow the United States of America is finally opening its Embassy in Jerusalem. US President Trump has defied precedent and the State Department. He is the first American President to follow through on a very popular campaign promise. Many of his predecessors campaigned that they'd move the embassy, but they didn't.

Today is Jerusalem Day, the date on the Jewish Calendar when a large part of our Historic, Biblical Homeland was liberated in the 1967 Six Days War after thousands of years of occupation, most recently by Jordan.

Chag Jerusalem and Shiloh Sameach!!! 


Mr. Cohen said...

If we Jews want the Gentiles to respect us,
then we must give honor to G*D by obeying
all of His commandments and we must also
respect each other.
Was Daniel an Orthodox Jew?

Was Isaiah an Orthodox Jew?

Was Ezekiel an Orthodox Jew?

Was Jeremiah an Orthodox Jew?

Was Ezra an Orthodox Jew?

Was Nehemiah an Orthodox Jew?

Refuting the Fans of Vashti:

Asher Wade: Methodist minister
who converted to Orthodox Judaism

HDG, Yerushalayim, E"Y Shlemah said...

Batya, even if your added meanings weren't originally intended, I believe they are the correct ones, sending out multiple messages from HQB"H.

Yom Yerushalayim/Shiloh Sameach to you too!

Batya said...


Netivotgirl said...

Excellent article dear Batya comparing the world's view of Israel as a 'toy!' Additionally, I didn't make the connection between the 'Geisha girl outfit' and the song's meaning until you pointed it out! I mistakenly thought it was just another unusual piece of attire that this singer who likes to 'think outside of the box' and behave differently wore! (And I have read many books on the Far East describing the function of Geishas!!!) So thank you for that as well!! Kudos my dear on another great post! You always have what to teach others beyond giving your own opinion!

Anonymous said...

How can Torah observant Jews celebrate a fellow Jew breaking the laws of the Torah, not just in public, on the street, but on the international stage?

This is not something to celebrate. It's an embarrassment. We have to stay faithful to Hashem and the Torah, not court the fickle favour of the international community. We have to do our part, but ultimately we are only here by Hashem's grace. (And by our part I mean building the country physically and spiritually, and protecting it with an army etc, etc, but not encouraging and praising blatant disregard of the Torah in the name of the Jewish people.)

The same is true for the lauding of the likes of Gal Gadot, Bar Rafaeli, Natalie Portman (which backfired brilliantly) etc, etc. Whilst I wish every Jew in the world well, including the above mentioned, I wish that we could stop making idols out of people who bring shame on the Jewish nation, a nation of cohanim. None of us are perfect, but there is a big difference between making a mistake here and there in one's private life, and doing tshuva over it, and making a career out of extreme immodesty in front of millions or maybe billions of people. I feel sorry for them as I would not want to be in any of their shoes on the day of judgement.

Sometimes, I feel that in the dati-leumi community Eretz Yisrael has become idol worship. As long as someone supports Israel, everything else is overlooked. E.g. arutz 7 joyfully announcing that shakira will be performing in Israel. Until Moshiach comes, the best system we have is a democracy, which I support, but that does not mean that it doesn't hurt to think of even more immodesty in Eretz Hakodesh, which the land cannot bear. And I consider it shameful that arutz7, the voice piece of the dati-leumi world is celebrating her arrival. I have nothing against her, but her performance is not exactly suitable for a nation of priests. We should be crying over it, not singing.

Again I wish every Jew well, and I hope that we all merit to do complete tshuva.

Let's encourage that.

Anonymous said...

This also means that next year's eurovision is slated to be held in Jerusalem. It really is a case that one sin leads to another, or to a whole host of other sins. Another reason to pray for moshiach to come post-haste.

(Btw in countries with real music the eurovision is considered to be a cringe inducing monstrosity, and for what it's worth, according to, it has become the "gayest spectacle on tv"). Britain left Europe, it's time for Israel to leave too.

Miriam said...

I hear anonymous's concerns but I also see something so amazing in it. Everything behind the obvious scenes. Hashem knows what lowly level we are on as a nation and we have been so un-unified by religious and political differences that He has to unite us in a way that most of us can relate to - through unfortunate circumstances as terror that brings the whole of Israel together so we forget our differences and also through sort of silly things like winning Eurovision that everyone feels a little proud of even if they never heard the music.

We can all feel grateful to Hashem for giving us small signs of what is to come - even though we have so many haters, Israel still came out on top. Just that alone is mindboggling to me. I feel it is a good omen, a continuation of Israel rising to the top of the world, the Jewish nation being a light among the nations and B'ezrat Hashem, if Eurovision will be here next year, all of the nations in the world who join will come to the Holy Land and sing praises to Hashem. We are told after Moshiach that all the nations will pilgrimage to Eretz Yisrael to come to the Beit Hamikdash and praise and thank Hashem. Why assume it will continue as a sinful and unholy thing? I think it will turn around and as the Israeli's there said "Next year in Jerusalem", maybe not intending it to mean anything other than the setting of the next contest, Hashem put those words in their mouth to mean what we always mean when we say it at the end of the Hagadah. The Beit Hamikdash should be here and all things unholy will turn into holy!

Remember that our holiest people from our nation had unholy beginnings, many with questionable circumstances that Hashem assured us was holy in His eyes. We shouldn't be so quick to judge ourselves when we've been forsaken in exile so long and now coming together as a nation again but with all the cultures attached to us. Hashem knew what going into exile would do to us and promised us our Land as ours no matter what. We are a holy nation and we will return soon as acting like one. First, let us all come together, with national pride and see the wonderful sense of humor Hashem has by letting an Israeli singer win in the midst of BDS protest and with quite a ridiculous song although it does have some meaning behind it. What matters is that she's Jewish, she's Israeli and she won! It was won by the country with the combination of highest popular vote as well as highest judge's vote. It shows that despite all of the antisemitism and obvious hatred of Israel's policies and "aggression", we don't have as many haters as it may seem. Winning this is just a continuation of Trump winning. Against all odds at the time and was done as an obvious miracle of Hashem putting all the pieces together so that the final stage before moshiach comes could be set. I was giggling with glee all morning, it just tickled my funny bone that Hashem had her win even though it is sad that it wasn't a kiddush Hashem outright, it was still a wonderful boost for Israelis. Hashem is right there, behind every scene...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous @13:39. Firstly, I think the interpretation might be yours, but as I see it, this is not Jewish nor some of our lovely Israeli music. Believe she did win firstly, because Israel is now in the limelight and the hope of Europe is that Israel will be a country for all its citizens, chas v'chalilah. Secondly, what is Israel to do with Europe and its Eurovision? Thirdly, to think this is talent and music in the eyes of observant Jewry is like the above commenter wrote, today's idol worship. But, at the same time believe this is all part of the geulah process while we are still down in the 50th level of tumah, that somehow, eventually those who go along with the nonsense will eventually return to their roots; may that come soon.

Anonymous said...

It says in Chazal "tsnua letsadik, prutzah lerasha". The obvious question is shouldn't it be tsakika letsadik, etc. The answer is that if a woman is modest, all the other mitzvot will flow from that, and the opposite. Rav Mizrachi said that if a woman keeps shabat and is modest she has done 95% of her tikun. Of course there is everything else, but that is the principal issue for a woman.

Hashem has given each one of us free will with respect to the pursuit of mitzvot, which is why I believe that until Moshiach comes, democracy is the best form of government for us. Jews don't believe in Iranian style modesty patrols. And I am aware that I am just one individual with no public influence. But the very least I can give Hashem is my attitude. If Yishai Rivo had represented Israel with a song of love for Hashem that would have been something completely different. But as it is, I find this no cause for celebration, but for shame. That is all I can give Hashem.

Miriam, I don't think that this win unites am yisrael at all, only some parts of it, which is thus a contradiction in terms. I'm sure most Haredim think like me, and then all the other people who aren't haredi as such, like myself, but undefined dossim. "Why assume ... etc". Because that is what it is right now. Sure if it changes into an event of kedusha, I will be the first to welcome it.

"What matters is that she's Jewish, she's Israeli and she won!"
This is exactly my point, this is not what matters. What matters are the laws of the Torah and ratzon Hashem. Would you be equally happy if Neta stood there with her cheese and ham sandwich representing the Jewish country?

I wouldn't have gone out of my way to comment on the event, had not Batya, a religious woman, written about the event so jubilantly. We have to remember that this is not just Eretz Yisrael, but Eretz Hakodesh. Thank Gd I have lived in Israel for quite a long time, and I very aware of the Israeli reality. I'm not here to judge others, but that doesn't mean that I should rejoice in their transgressions either. In the same way we are pained by our own transgressions and do not celebrate them, it should be painful to us to see other Jews transgress the Torah.

Batya said...

NG and Miriam, thanks. I'm glad that you, too, are able to see the good here.

a's of all "stripes," I'm sorry that you're incapable of seeing the good in this. Gd and Chazal have made it clear that the Torah must function in This World עולם הזה. We must take these opportunities to bring other Jews closer to mitzvot and not just condemn them. I certainly don't idolize Netta Barzelai or her song, but I do celebrate the fact that she sang as a proud Israeli. And the win will bring many more people to Israel, to Jerusalem. Millions more will see it on their screens.

And in terms of international politics, I repeat, as I've said so many times, the State of Israel shouldn't let foreign countries or NGOs push us around. We are nobody's toy!

Anonymous said...

Batya, I think that you unfairly use very strong language. I'm not "condemning" anyone, I'm criticizing. Not Neta B and other non-observant Israelis, but members of the religious public that have made love of the land into a form of avoda zara. We do not need to curry favour. We are supposed to be a people that dwells alone. Even if any good comes out of this, it is mitzva she'ba b'aveirah. A prostitute cannot use her professionally acquired money to give to tsadaka.

In any case Israel shouldn't even be in the Eurovision. We are a Middle Eastern country, not European. It doesn't even make sense.

Miriam said...

Anonymous, I don't think you're doing yourself any favors by only judging the situation of today with harsh judgement rather than mercy. That's opposite of what we ask of Hashem and what we should require from ourselves. I read recently an answer someone received when asking how it could be that the building up of our holy Israel was done by irreligious Jews and he was answered that it was just like Hashem allowed all kinds of workers to help build the Beit hamikdash, even in the kodesh kodashim while it was being built, but as soon as it was complete, then it became completely sanctified and so only the kohen gadol could enter the kodesh kodashim on Yom Kippur. Two different times made two different rules. Eretz yisrael now requires everyone to build up our nation but when we have our Beit hamikdash again, we will all be a holy people and the land will be sanctified again. Just wait and in the meantime, think more positively about all of us who each in his own way is contributing to building up our curent land. I believe it is all considered beautiful in the eyes of Hashem although He knows we are not perfect yet and no one is sin free. He is changing scenes for the geula process and I am finding it so exciting. No need for criticism although we can find plenty if wrongdoings if looking, instead feel Hashem's love in our current political and social changes.

Batya said...

What's "avoda zara" about loving the Land of Israel? If you don't love it, consider yourself and all the mitzvot rooted to it, then you're sinning. The Jewish Calendar and Jewish Holidays are based on the Land of Israel.

Sorry, but you have it all wrong if you don't love the Land of Israel. One is even supposed to michalel Shabbat to buy Land in the Land of Israel.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anonymous @20:09. Exactly as I feel; thank you for pointing out the wrong of this whole matter. Cannot understand why Miriam and Batya twist around the words. The religious zionists, have to a degree, done a disservice to Torah by sort of idol worshipping anything that goes when it comes to the holy Land of Israel. That's right, holy. It is not the individuals who are, chas v'sholom, being judged by me or others but the collective who fight Rabbis and Torah Laws and traditions, just so they can be like the nations. That is why the secular youth in Israel are so far away from even the most basic Jewish traditions. There are gentiles who seem to know more what Shabbat and kashrut mean than these youth who have been indoctrinated in their schools, at home with leftist parents and government that appease the nations and many who just despise Torah. Torah is our backbone and has kept the Jewish people from being lost over the millenia. Let's also be honest, Israel won because the world's eyes are on Israel now because the lead nation, the USA, is behind them. It is you who have it wrong!
Also, to compare our holy ancestors who some of them may have come from impure roots, it was only because of their 'pure intentions' that made it turn into merits, therefore, it makes no sense for us to make such comparisons to today's purposeful transgressors.

Miriam said...

I used to be very critical of any anti-Torah behavior I saw here but it didn't do me or them any good. You are not going to change people by looking down at their actions, no matter how far from Torah they are. It is a constant challenge to love each Jew and look for the good inside them and not focus on their mistakes. They very often have the most beautiful hearts and souls and they yearn for a perfect Israel like we do. Many of them have purer intentions than I do. They are ignorant of the beauty the mitzvot offer so they cling to false beauty. I don't believe many despise Torah at all. They just are blinded currently. I wouldn't think badly of them. Hashem will see them as we see them. That's why we are told to look for the good in others. Hashem put them scattered all over the world, did you really expect all Jews to return to Israel retaining their forgotten traditions and values? Israel is made up of so many different backgrounds. If the rest of the world is deep down in their avodah zara of money and celebrity figures, it is expected that many in current Israel would not be expected to be able to separate themselves from it. I am not saying to condone it. It is not the ideal way to behave but everything in due process. Moshiach is at the door and he will guide the way and bring back more masses of Jews who may know even less about Judaism or that they are even Jewish. We will all grow close to Hashem together. If you look for the bad in everyone who doesn't YET follow a Torah lifestyle, you will not be able to love them like yourself. They will give up their false beliefs easily when shown the truth but learning to love is harder and takes longer so we must work hard on that now.

I can't really believe Israel won solely because the US is backing Israel now. That would mean they all would back Trump? I think Hashem still pushed their hand to vote. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense unless the media's portrayal of public opinion is very, very off. I just see it starting to change now and more and more Israel supporters are coming out of hiding. Things are moving very fast now. Yishmael is finishing up it's merits to remain in power and in Israel and Hashem is slowly raising Israel and the Jewish nation up from it's exiled state. Yes, we have a long way to go to rid ourselves of the taint of exile but Hashem can speed up that process too.

Anonymous said...

Miriam: No one is saying that we don't care about them. We pray for their return to do teshuvah. It is not looking down on anyone. By celebrating the wrong, how can they know that it is wrong and what is right. B'H for so many returnees, ken yirbu. It's just the attitude we see that a big deal is made by a contest where you know anti-semitism is very alive and well from a continent that has seen more Jewish blood shed than anywhere else on earth. Do believe the State won because of America's backing of Israel, not because they like/or don't like Trump. It is the power of the USA that speaks.
Many have done teshuvah because the religious (meaning all factions, traditional, orthodox & even chareidi) have shown their disgust of today's culture and society. This really has less to do with real Torah views, from those who are really very frum and don't even know or care about all this. It has to do with today's miserable culture that downslided to the bottom.

LondonMale said...

This is a fascinating post Batya, and a fascinating dsicussion.

The positives:

1.) Next year the Eurovision has to be in Jerusalem. So the audience can look and see that it is Israel's capital city.

2.) Israel should do all it can to choose a song for next year which is modest and promotes Torah values.

3.) The competition should avoid being oN shabbat. This will be a tremendous Kiddush Hashem.

The competition includes Israel because it is for countries in the European Broadcasting Union, not neccesarily in geographical Europe. They also invited Australia to compete.

I think it would be interesting to have a band composed of Jews, Muslims and Druzim etc.
To show the world the mix of Israel's population.

Mr. Cohen said...

Internet conversations can become confusing
very quickly when more-than-one participant
calls himself “anonymous”. Everyone should
choose one alias, and use it consistently.

"A word to the wise is suffient."

Batya said...

Miriam and London Male, yes, exactly.

To help people get closer to genuine Judaism, we must hold their hands and not pray from afar.

There are great things happening if you open your eyes to see the good, the blessings and miracles Gd is performing.

Leah said...

Batya, great article! I completely agree with you.

Netivotgirl and Miriam, great comments! well said!

Batya said...

Leah, thanks!

han said...

great post, that brought reactions but quiet ones. thanks batya

Batya said...

Han, thanks. I never expected such reactions and criticism.