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Anti-Israel Bias Negatively Impacted Norwegian Judge’s Score for Eden Golan During Eurovision

Organizers of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest told The Algemeiner on Monday they were saddened to discover that one of the competition’s jury members knowingly violated rules of the contest by refusing to allocate points to Israeli singer Eden Golan because of his personal bias against Israel and its ongoing war targeting Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

“We have been made aware by our Norwegian Member NRK about the comments made by one of the jurors regarding their voting in the Eurovision Song Contest,” the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement. “We are disappointed if the juror in question disregarded the instructions that they confirm they had received as part of the Voting Rules of the Contest. The voting procedure is monitored in all countries and the EBU received a notarized result from NRK signed by each jury member confirming that they did vote according to the rules.”

The EBU did not address The Algemeiner‘s inquiry about disciplinary measures that might be taken against Norwegian jury member Daniel Owen for breaching rules of the competition.

Each participating member of the EBU has a national jury that votes in the Eurovision Song Contest. Jury members vote individually and are required to distribute points to Eurovision contestants based solely on their songs and performances in the competition. The final winner of the Eurovision Song Contest is chosen by combining jury votes and public votes, also called the audience’s televotes.

The Norwegian broadcaster NRK is a member of the EBU and, following the Eurovision 2024 Grand Final on Saturday, Owen said he was shocked and upset that the Norwegian jury awarded eight points in total to Israel. He admitted that he himself refused to give a single point to Golan, who ultimately finished in fifth place in the competition that took place this year in Malmo, Sweden.

“I was not involved in the allocation of points to Israel,” he said. “Although I was not involved in the awarding of points to Israel, I would like to apologize that this was shown from the Norwegian jury.”

Owen’s actions were in violation of Eurovision rules, which he admitted in a video posted on social media. He said that before the Eurovision was broadcast, the jury was shown a video detailing rules of the competition, one of which states that “you must not favor or discriminate against any participant based on nationality, gender, suitability, political views, or any other reason other than the song and performance. Do not let political views affect how you evaluate a song and/or an artist.”

Owen deliberately ignored Eurovision rules by withholding points for Israel. He said in the social media video that it was “impossible” for him not to take into consideration the ongoing Israel-Hamas war when distributing points.

“What is happening in Palestine is heartbreaking, and I cannot in any way support Israel’s actions. In my opinion, Israel should not be allowed to participate in Eurovision at all,” he said. “Eurovision promotes the motto ‘united by music.’ But when the party is over and the music has stopped, the situation remains unchanged. This is something we cannot ignore.”

He concluded by saying, “My heart and all my support go out to Palestine. Free Palestine.”

Leading up to the start of the Eurovision, organizers came under fire for allowing Israel to participate in the competition, anti-Israel activists urged contestants to pull out of the contest to boycott the Jewish state’s involvement, and thousands protested against Israel in Malmo, including outside Golan’s hotel room.

Gunilla Süssmann, who was also on the Norwegian jury alongside Owen, said about the jury allocating eight points to Israel: “The fact that the jury did not choose to boycott artists is not the same as us supporting war. This was a purely professional assessment where we had to assess the best song based on our musical expertise. That is what we have done.”

Stig Karlsen, head of the Norwegian delegation, said the EBU was notified regarding Owen’s breach of Eurovision rules. “The jury must judge the song, artist, and performance without being colored by politics or other non-musical matters,” he added.

Switzerland’s Nemo won the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “The Code” and a total of 591 points from jurors in each participating country and the global public. Croatian artist Baby Lasagna was the runner-up with 547 points, Ukraine was third with 453 points, and France came in fourth place with 445 points. Rounding out the top five was Israel with 375 points. Twenty-five countries competed in the Eurovision grand finals this year.

After arriving back home to Israel on Sunday, Golan told reporters she was not shocked when she heard the low scores given to Israel by the national juries. “I think it was understood [that it would turn out that way],” she said.

Israel performed quite well in terms of the public vote, according to the Times of Israel.

Voters in 14 different countries out of the 37 eligible to vote, as well as those in all non-participating Eurovision nations, which are grouped together, allocated the most possible points — 12 — to Israel. The Jewish state got 12 votes from countries including Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. It also got 10 points, the second-highest allocation possible, from Albania, Austria, Cyprus, Czechia, Moldova, Slovenia, and Ireland.