The Eurovision Song Contest is a captivating annual global music competition drawing millions of viewers worldwide, and features artists representing over 40 countries.
Though less familiar in North America, for Israelis, its entries to the contest are a source of excitement and national pride. Many see them as a form of cultural diplomacy, aiming to promote exchange, boost the domestic music industry, and foster international connections.
By carefully examining the historical context, lyrics, music, and more, of some of Israel’s most famous entries, we can begin to uncover valuable insights into the nation’s zeitgeist (spirit of the time), complex narratives, identity, and aspirations.
WHAT IS THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST?
Eurovision is an annual song contest where European countries, as well as a few non-European countries, including Israel, compete with extravagant, political, kitschy, and creative musical and artistic performances.
The winners are decided by a combination of a public vote and a panel of judges from participating countries.
CLICK A SONG TO LEARN MORE AND LISTEN
1973 Ilanit: “Somewhere” | “אֵי שָׁם” | “Ei Sham”
1974 Poogy: “I Gave Her My Life” | “נָתַתִּי לָהּ חַיֵּי” | “Natati La Chayai”
1978 Izhar Cohen: “I Love You” | “Abanibi” | “אָבָּנִיבִי” 🥇
1979 Milk and Honey: “Halleluyah” | “הַלְלוּיָהּ” 🥇
1982 Avi Toledano: “Hora” | “הוֹרָה” 🥈
1983 Ofra Haza: “Alive” | “חַי” | “Chai” 🥈
1991 Duo Datz: “Here” | “כָּאן” | “Kan” 🥉
1998 Dana International: “Diva” | “דִּיוָה” 🥇
2009 Noa and Mira Awad: “There Must Be Another Way” | “עֵינַיִךְ” | “Einayich”
2018 Netta: “Toy” | “טוֹי”🥇
2023 Noa Kirel: “Unicorn” | “יוּנִיקוֹרְן” 🥉
Israel won first place four times in the Eurovision Song Contest: 1978, 1979, 1998, and 2018. Since the winning country traditionally hosts the following year’s contest, Israel hosted the contest in 1979, 1999, and 2019. While Israel was scheduled to host the 1980 Eurovision Contest, they declined to host as the date coincided with Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day). Israel did not participate five times when the contest coincided with Yom Hazikaron or Yom Hashoah.
Give an introduction to the Eurovision Song Contest and play the video of one of the songs.
What kind of a song is it? What feelings does it evoke for you? What do you think the performers wanted to portray?
Provide more information, historical context, lyrics, etc. And discuss:
- What do you notice in the song, its lyrics, or melody?
In English; in Hebrew; with Jewish themes, including words from Jewish liturgy; about Israel’s right to exist; about Israel’s right to defend itself; universal love song; nonsense song/poking fun; a song or performance depicting Israel as a liberal country; about love and/or peace; other…
- What insights might the song give about Israel?
On current events at the time of the contest; Israel’s self-image; aspirations for the future; something else?
- What is the image that Israel is projecting to the world? How is this portrayal reflected through its language, attire, music, and other cultural expressions?
- How would you describe Israel based on the song(s)?
- If you wrote a song to represent Israel in the next Eurovision, what themes or messages would you choose to convey? What would you call the song?
1973: ILANIT | “SOMEWHERE”
EI SHAM | אֵי שָׁם
Lyrics: Ehud Manor
Music: Nurit Hirsch
Location: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Israel’s First Appearance in Eurovision
The Eurovision Song Contest started in May of 1956, but Israel didn’t participate until 1973. The reason for that is interesting in its own right:
In the early 1970s, Ilanit, a famous Israeli singer, was offered the opportunity to represent Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest. It wasn’t the first time Israeli singers had represented European countries in Eurovision. It was only when Ilanit stumbled upon the fact that the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s membership in the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), gave Israel the right to participate in Eurovision that this great tradition was born!
Despite the elation of the 1967 Six Day War victory, by 1972, the mood in Israel quickly shifted. During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took hostage and later murdered members of the Israeli Olympic team, in an event later known as The Munich Massacre. In total, the terrorists killed eleven Israeli athletes. “Ei Sham” conveys a message to the world that Israel has recovered from the devastating event and is looking ahead with hope.
Some Israeli music critics consider “Ei Sham” one of the first Israeli pop songs to break free from the burdensome connection of the past and history. Departing from the traditional associations with the Land of Israel, Eastern European sounds, or early military band rhythms, “Ei Sham” stood tall, unashamed, and liberated, boasting a sense of pride. Despite the beauty of the lyrics, they have an ominous prediction of a coming storm. This could be seen as a premonition of the Yom Kippur War that erupted at the end of the year.
The singer, Ilanit, was widely popular from the 1960s to 1980s, and remains an icon even today. She represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest twice, paving the way for future Israeli artists in international music competitions.
Behind the Scenes
The potential for a similar terrorist attack during Ilanit’s visit led to heightened security measures throughout the week. During the live broadcast, the hall was fortified with armed guards, and the audience was strongly advised to remain seated throughout the show as a precautionary measure to minimize potential risks. Rumors were circulating that Ilanit was wearing a bulletproof vest under her loosely fit dress, but she later clarified that these speculations were false.
1974: POOGY | “I GAVE HER MY LIFE”
NATATI LA CHAYAI | נָתַתִּי לָהּ חַיֵּי
Artists: Poogy (also known as Kaveret)
Lyrics and Music: Danny Sanderson and Alon Olearchik
Location: Brighton, United Kingdom
This song was written following the traumatic experience of the Yom Kippur War, which began in October 1973, and practically ended the post-1967 Six Day War euphoria.
The Prime Minister at the time was Golda Meir. Her handling of the Yom Kippur War earned her both praise and criticism. While some admired her resilience and leadership during a challenging time, others criticized her government for not taking preemptive action despite intelligence warnings of an imminent Arab attack. Following the war, Golda Meir faced growing public discontent and political pressure, leading to her resignation as Prime Minister in April 1974.
Though at first glance the song seems to be a simple love song, it also contains a subtle political statement. The line “there is enough air for a state or two” seems to refer to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Some people believe that the woman referred to in the title of the song is Golda Meir. If so, the lyrics “I gave her my life; got down on my knees; believe me everyone, I’ve learned the meaning of ‘just because’ and I got hurt” take on a whole different meaning. It would no longer be about romantic rejection but rather a citizen protesting the actions of the prime minister during the war. Others read it as a song addressed to the country in general.
The song, however, ends on a hopeful note with the words:
“Maybe we’ll get along despite it all; If she wants, we can overcome”
The band, Kaveret, was formed in the early 1970s by well-known musicians Danny Sanderson, Alon Oleartchik, Gidi Gov, and more. Their style blended rock and pop, and featured witty and satirical lyrics that appealed to audiences of diverse ages. Their music remains widely popular to this day.
1978: IZHAR COHEN | “I LOVE YOU” 🥇
A-BA-NI-BI | אבניבי
Artist: Yizhar Cohen and Alphabeta
Lyrics: Ehud Manor
Music: Nurit Hirsch
Location: Paris, France
The 1977 Israeli legislative elections marked a significant turning point in the country’s history. After nearly 30 years of political dominance by the Labor Party, the right-wing Likud party, led by Menachem Begin, achieved a landslide victory, known today as the “Upheaval.”
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel in November 1977 was a groundbreaking event, as he became the first Arab leader to visit the country and address the Knesset (Israeli parliament). During his visit, he extended an invitation to then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to visit Egypt, setting the stage for further diplomatic engagement. These negotiations eventually culminated in the Camp David Accords in 1978, facilitated by then-US President Jimmy Carter.
The mood in Israel was optimistic and there was finally a glimpse of hope for peace in the region. The song choice for Eurovision reflects that optimism as does the iconic 1978 Independence Day Poster with the word “shalom” against a white and blue sky.
Winning first place meant that the following year Eurovision would take place in Israel for the first time.
״A-ba-ni-bi״ is about love through children’s eyes. The chorus of the song is written in an encrypted “Bet Language” similar to secret languages invented by children, such as Pig Latin (“And what we really felt, we whispered only in the Bet Language”). The expression of love by children is then contrasted with how love is treated in adult life. When the Hebrew letter “bet” is removed from words in the chorus, the words ani ohev otach (I love you) are revealed.
Musically, Nurit Hirsch took inspiration from The Bee Gees’ arrangements and aimed to introduce something fresh and unique to the Eurovision Song Contest.
The singer, Yizhar Cohen came from a musical family of Yemeni origin. He was a member of the Nachal Entertainment Troupe during his IDF service. In addition to winning first place in 1978, he represented Israel again in 1985 with the song “Olé Olé.”
1979: MILK AND HONEY | “HALLELUYAH” 🥇
HALLELUYAH | הַלְלוּיָהּ
Artists: Gali Atari with Milk & Honey
Lyrics: Shimrit Or
Music: Kobi Oshrat
Place: Jerusalem, Israel
Hosting Eurovision for the first time in Israel was a momentous honor and an exhilarating experience for a nation aspiring towards a bright future.
The Camp David Accords were signed between Israel and Egypt in September 1978. The negotiations were facilitated by then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter. It was the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country. The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was formally signed in March 1979, just two months before the Eurovision Song Contest hosted in Jerusalem.
The peace treaty sparked a renewed belief in the possibility of regional peace. The chosen Eurovision song expressed hope in the fulfillment of the Biblical promise for peace, radiating optimism and anticipation for a bright future.
On the other hand, just before the event Turkey withdrew from the contest following pressure from Arab states, who objected to its taking part in a contest held in Israel.
The event took place at Binyanei Ha’uma (The National Halls) which was at the time the biggest venue in the region. It was established in 1952 as a conference center that would symbolize the sovereignty of the young State of Israel and serve as a center for the entire Jewish people. It has a long history of hosting events, conventions, and gatherings, including the 23rd Zionist Congress, the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and many song festivals.
“Halleluyah,” a Hebrew word meaning “Praise God,” is well-known in many languages and is used in prayers and songs worldwide, in synagogues, churches, and other places of worship. Several years later, in 1984, Leonard Cohen would compose his own version of “Halleluyah,” which would eventually become a part of the pantheon of popular music. Although sung in Hebrew in Jerusalem, the refrain was understood and appreciated by people from diverse backgrounds.
Gali Atari is a well-known Israeli actress and singer of Yemeni descent. Her most known song, “Ein Li Aretz Acheret” (אין לי ארץ אחרת), “I Have No Other Country,” has become an anthem of sorts, adopted by protest movements of all political persuasions.
1982: AVI TOLEDANO | “HORA” 🥈
HORA | הוֹרָה
Artists: Avi Toledano
Lyrics: Yoram Taharlev
Music: Avi Toledano
Place: Harrogate, United Kingdom
In the previous year, Israel experienced several significant events. First, the annexation of the Golan Heights drew international criticism. Second, the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat caused instability in the region. Third, the Israeli Air Force destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor, receiving mixed responses from the world. Additionally, a terrorist attack in Hebron heightened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. To top it all, Mossad’s failed attempt to assassinate PLO leader Yasser Arafat further increased tensions. Moreover, Israel faced a severe economic crisis with high inflation and unemployment.
The song sent to Eurovision that year does not dwell on what went wrong, but instead, it highlights what remains beautiful and inspiring. It evokes a sense of nostalgia, carrying the iconic and exhilarating beat of the Hora—the quintessential world-renowned Israeli symbol.
The lyricist, Yoram Taharlev, is widely regarded as one of the most influential voices shaping Israeli identity and ethos. The lyrics evoke the mythos and ethos of Israel’s early pioneering days, reminiscent of biblical times when the country was known as Canaan.
The performer, Avi Toledano, was born in Morocco, and moved to Israel at 16. His musical career featured numerous chart-topping songs and he also received the prestigious Kinor David award, something like an Israeli version of an Oscar.
1983: OFRA HAZA | “ALIVE” 🥈
CHAI | חַי
Artist: Ofra Haza
Lyrics: Ehud Manor
Music: Avi Toledano
Location: Munich, Germany
In 1982 Israel was involved in another regional conflict—the First Lebanon War. The mood in the country was somber. The population split in their perception of the war and some called it a war of choice, rather than viewing it as a war of necessity. The movement Yesh G’vul (“There is a Limit”) was formed by soldiers in the Reserve Forces who refused to serve in Lebanon. Additionally, a historic demonstration took place in Tel Aviv, drawing an estimated four hundred thousand participants, protesting Israel’s indirect involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Despite the somber mood in Israel, a special opportunity presented itself to promote a different side of the country.
That year’s location held special significance—Munich, Germany. It was the site of the Munich Massacre during the 1972 Summer Olympics where eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.
The song “Chai” stands as a powerful testament to the determined spirit of the Jewish people throughout history. It serves as an anthem of defiance against the dark chapters of Jewish history.
Through its poignant lyrics and captivating melody, the song’s message resounds still today, loudly and clearly: despite the immense challenges faced, the Jewish people proclaim, “Here we are, alive!” Resilience shines through, symbolizing not only survival but also the unwavering determination to thrive and flourish against all odds. “Chai” not only commemorates the past but also carries a message of hope and perseverance for the future.
Ofra Haza remains one of Israel’s most influential cultural icons and played a pivotal role in popularizing the culture of Mizrahi Jews (those of Middle Eastern origin). She was known for her distinctive vocals and skillful fusing of elements from both Eastern and Western musical traditions. Her songs frequently drew inspiration from Mizrahi and Jewish folk tales and poetry.
In addition to the music, the singers’ attire contained much symbolism. The clothes were designed by Doreen Frankfurt, who also was behind the clothes for other successful Israeli entries to the Eurovision. Her design choices and attention to detail played a pivotal role in the success of these performances, all of which got first or second places. In her own words about the 1983 entry: “The choice of yellow for the band’s clothes was a deliberate and powerful statement.”
The yellow color, reminiscent of the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust, serves as a solemn reminder of the immense suffering and persecution endured by the Jewish people. The large red flowers on their costumes hold a different significance. They serve as a symbol of tribute and remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, expressing solidarity with all those who have lost their lives to violence and conflict.
The white dress that Ofra Haza wore is the universal symbol of peace.
Through these thoughtfully crafted symbols, the band’s attire becomes a powerful statement of resilience and hope. It embodies the collective strength to confront a painful history while embracing a message of unity.
“Chai” given new life by Kululam
In 2018, Kululam, a social musical initiative that utilizes large group singing to create community and unity chose “Chai” for a special project. They brought together hundreds of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in Jerusalem to perform “Chai,” an ode to life, ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Related Article: Hundreds of Holocaust Survivors Gather to Sing Ode to Life | The Times of Israel
1991: DUO DATZ | “HERE” 🥉
KAN | כָּאן
Artist: Duo Datz
Lyrics & Music: Uzi Chitman
Musical Arrangement: Kobi Oshrat
Location: Rome, Italy
The First Gulf War, from August 1990–February 1991, had a significant impact on Israel, despite not directly participating in the conflict. Iraq’s Scud missile attacks on Israel’s major cities caused fear and anxiety among the public. Israelis had to take protective measures, seeking shelter during air raid sirens, and receiving gas masks. The situation took a deep psychological toll.
Israel’s Eurovision song that year had strong nationalistic undertones. Its lyrics expressed the Jewish belief that Israel is our home, it has been our home for millennia, and we are here to stay.
The lyrics reflect a strong sense of attachment and love for Israel as a homeland. They convey a deep emotional connection to the land, history, personal and collective identity. The song gives a concise history of returning after two thousand years of exile, pioneers, making the desert bloom, and more. The song is filled with echoes from Israel’s Declaration of Independence, and a self-professed wish for peace with its neighbors.
The emphasis on the repetitive word “Kan“, meaning here, is reminiscent of the poem “Pine” by Leah Goldberg, where she also uses the word to express her feelings about her connection to two homelands: the one she left and the one to which she arrived.
The group, Duo Datz, was made up of Orna and Moshe Datz, a married couple. Their career spanned from the mid 1980s to the mid 2000s, with many successful albums and other projects along the way.
1998: DANA INTERNATIONAL | “DIVA” 🥇
DIVA | דִּיוָה
Artist: Dana International
Lyrics: Yoav Ginai
Music: Tzvika Pick
Location: Birmingham, UK
In 1998, tensions reached a peak between different communities within Israel—Israel’s Haredim (חרדים), Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and the larger secular Jewish community. Secular Israelis (חילונים), called hilonim, resented the substantial government subsidies granted to the Haredim, their exemption from mandatory military service, and their pursuit of legislation based on Halakha (Jewish Religious Law). The conflict included a series of violent clashes in Jerusalem between strict Shabbat observant Jews and other residents who tried to block major streets on Shabbat.
During this same year, the artist Dana International, a transgender woman, was selected by a special committee (comprising secular artists and TV personalities) to represent Israel in Eurovision. This choice made her a symbol not only for the growing LGBTQ+ community but also for the broader secular community. The controversy surrounding her selection was so intense that members of an Orthodox party threatened to resign from the government, and she required continuous police escorts and security upon her arrival in the UK.
Dana International’s participation and her victory were seen by many as a watershed moment for LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance in the country. Since then, Israel has gained recognition as an LGBTQ+ destination, particularly in recent years. Tel Aviv Pride Parade is one of the most well-known and celebrated Pride events in the world, with visitors from around the globe.
Dana International was born in Tel Aviv to a Yemenite-Jewish family. She came out as transgender at the age of 13 and adopted her stage name, Dana International. She built a successful musical career in the 1990’s, culminating with her first-place Eurovision victory. In 2011, she again represented Israel at Eurovision.
The lyrics and music for “Diva” were written especially for Dana to perform at Eurovision. The song was tailored to her style and persona and conveyed themes of empowerment, individuality, and self-confidence. The repetition of the words “Diva” and “Viva,” which are internationally understood, was an intentional choice to boost international appeal.
The catchy and impactful melody blends various musical elements, and together with the lyrics, creates a powerful anthem which was especially popular within the LGBTQ+ community.
2009: NOA AND MIRA AWAD | “THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY”
EINAYICH | עֵינַיִךְ
Artist: Achinoam Nini (Noa) and Mira Awad
Lyrics and Music: Noa, Awad and Gil Dor
Location: Moscow, Russia
The years leading up to 2009 were marked by events like the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the 2008 Gaza conflict (Operation Cast Lead), and the unsuccessful pursuit of a comprehensive and lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict endured, presenting persistent challenges and unresolved issues.
Within Israel’s borders, a series of significant coexistence initiatives emerged over the years, notably between Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis. These endeavors aimed to promote understanding, constructive dialogue, and collaboration between the two communities. A few examples include The Abraham Fund, Hand in Hand, The Parents Circle—Families Forum, Givat Haviva, and the mixed Jewish and Arab community village Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace).
Throughout Israel’s history, the relationship between Arabs and Jews has been intricate, shaped by historical, political, social, and cultural dynamics. Israel’s 2009 Eurovision entry underscored the existence of individuals within both communities who believe in the possibility of coexistence asserting that “There Must be Another Way.”
The song, written by Achinoam (Noa) Nini, Mira Awad, and Gil Dor, was both the first time an Arab-Israeli was featured in Eurovision as well as featuring a song with with partial Arabic lyrics. Noa and Mira Awad performed the song together, singing in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. The song is a fusion of musical styles, combining Middle Eastern and Western sounds which mirrors Israel’s cultural diversity.
Mira Awad is a Palestinian-Israeli singer, songwriter, and actress, who grew up in an Arab village in the Galilee, in Israel’s north. She has used her music as a platform for her activism, especially for women’s rights, Palestinian rights, and dialogue and co-existence.
Noa is an accomplished singer-songwriter, percussionist, poet, composer, and a dedicated human rights activist. She is one of Israel’s most successful international artists, writing primarily in English and incorporating other languages and musical styles.
Behind the Scenes
There was some opposition and controversy surrounding the decision to send the song to Eurovision. Some individuals and groups within Israel expressed concerns that the song’s lyrics and performance could be seen as taking a political stance or being too controversial for a song contest.
The decision to send a duet featuring a Jewish and an Arab singer was both applauded by those who saw it as a powerful statement of unity and criticized by those who felt that such a platform should not be used for addressing complex political matters.
Several Jewish and Arab local artists and intellectuals called for Awad to step down because, in their view, her participation would convey a false impression of national coexistence. Awad acknowledged this criticism, and said, “We’re not naïve enough to think that we’re representing any existing situation. We are trying to show a situation that we believe is possible if we just make the necessary efforts.” Learn more about the story of this song in their own words.
2018: NETTA | “TOY” 🥇
TOY | טוֹי
Lyrics and Music: Doron Medalie and Stav Beger
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
In 2017, the #MeToo social movement emerged as a powerful awareness campaign, publicly bringing to light the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault of women, especially in work settings. In Israel too the movement became widespread and influential.
Additionally, in these years there continued to be an increase in the inclusion of people with LGBTQ+ identities in public life, as well a strengthening of the body positivity movement.
For many, Netta gave voice to these movements in her identities, appearance, and the messages in her Eurovision song, “Toy.”
Even before winning the competition, “Toy” quickly became a viral phenomenon. Its catchy melody, quirky sound, and empowering message resonated globally and tens of thousands of people created their own versions, dances, covers, and parodies, shared on social media.
Netta Barzilai, known as Netta, is a singer-songwriter who came to fame by winning Israel’s HaKokhav HaBa (The Next Idol) music competition reality show in 2018. Her victory clinched her spot to represent Israel at Eurovision.
The lyrics convey a message of empowerment, self-acceptance, and self-confidence, while also challenging societal norms and objectification. The song’s catchy melody and playful language contribute to its energetic and empowering vibe.
The song’s lyrics are in English and peppered with limited Hebrew, and also many cultural references. The Japanese word baka, meaning stupid, and the Pokémon character Pikachu are mentioned. The song also pays homage to Gal Gadot, the Israeli film star most known for her portrayal of Wonder Woman in the film.
During her Eurovision performance, Netta showcased her looping skills by incorporating vocal loops, beatboxing, and various vocal effects to enhance her performance. This added a distinctive and modern element to her act, contributing to the song’s catchy and unconventional sound.
2023: NOA KIREL | “UNICORN” 🥉
UNICORN | יוּנִיקוֹרְן
Artist: Noa Kirel
Lyrics and Music: Doron Medalie, May Sfadia, Yinon Yahel and Noa Kirel
Location: Liverpool, UK (hosted on behalf of Ukraine)
In the early months of 2023, Israel experienced a pivotal moment in its history. A wave of mass protests swept across the country in response to efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition to overhaul the judiciary system, which many saw as a threat to Israeli democracy. The protests persisted for months, forcing some changes in the coalition’s efforts.
In the midst of the turmoil, Kirel’s third-place finish provided a rare moment of shared pride for many Israelis, with varying views on the judicial overhaul. Read more.
Noa Kirel, one of Israel’s biggest pop stars, has been singing since she was a kid. Her success started early—at just 14 she released her debut single and, by 18 she signed with Atlantic Records. In 2022, she made history by being the youngest artist to perform at Tel Aviv’s famous Yarkon Park concert venue, selling out with a crowd of 35,000.
“Unicorn” draws on the symbolism associated with unicorns—being magical, powerful, and unique. Kirel, who co-wrote the song, shared that the lyrics are intended to convey a message of acceptance and self-empowerment.
In August 2023 “Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles made a triumphant return to gymnastics after a two-year hiatus, dominating the US Classic to the beat of Israeli pop star Noa Kirel’s Eurovision hit “Unicorn.” Read more.
We dedicate this Israel educational resource to the memory of Ilan Vitemberg z”l, a remarkable individual and versatile educator. He believed that Israeli arts and culture serve as a pathway to understanding Israel and fostering a strong connection with its people. He utilized both highbrow and mainstream culture as tools for achieving this goal. The Eurovision Song Contest especially piqued his interest as it provided a historical narrative, diverse musical genres, and meaningful messages.
Another of his talents and interests was puppetry. Ilan, along with his husband Peter Olson, founded “Up A Tree Puppetry.” Drawing inspiration from the 2018 Eurovision-winning song “Toy,” by Israeli artist Netta, they created a unique puppet version of the song.