‘October Rain,’ Israel’s Proposed Eurovision Entry, Causes a Storm

A song called “October Rain” might simply be a ballad about dreary fall weather. But in the charged atmosphere following the Hamas-led attacks on Israel of Oct. 7, the title could also signal a lament about that tragedy, or a rallying call to stand firm against terrorism.

This week, the meaning of “October Rain” — a song that very few people have heard — became a contested question when newspapers in Israel reported that a song with that name had been chosen to represent the country in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Although initial reports gave few details of the song, they sparked a furor on social media. Some Eurovision fans complained that the track was clearly referring to Oct. 7 and should not be allowed in the nonpolitical event in which pop stars, representing countries, compete against each other each May.

Since Eurovision began in 1956, the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the contest, has forbidden songs that make political statements, insisting that the competition should unify, rather than divide. Every year, the union vets proposed lyrics to ensure they do not undermine that principle. Although Israel is not in Europe, its broadcaster is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, and therefore the country is eligible to compete in Eurovision.

On Wednesday, the news division of Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, which oversees the country’s participation in Eurovision, reported that the broadcaster had begun discussions with the European Broadcasting Union over the suitability of “October Rain.” If the union refused to approve the track, the report speculated, Israel would not submit an alternative and would then be barred from the contest.

Miki Zohar, the country’s culture minister, said in a post on X on Wednesday that it would be “scandalous” if the song wasn’t allowed to compete.

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