Israel finishes 14th in Eurovision


(JTA) — Israel finished in 14th place among the 26 nations competing in the 61st Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, which was won by Ukraine.

Australia came in second and Russia third in the contest that ended Saturday. The final was broadcast live in the United States for the first time and featured a performance by the American pop star Justin Timberlake.

Israel’s entrant Hovi Star, whose real name is Hovev Sokulets, performed his ballad written for the competition titled “Made of Stars.” He placed eighth in the tabulations of the judge’s panels from the various countries, but fell to 14th during the popular vote.

Star was harassed earlier this month while promoting Eurovision in Russia, allegedly because of his sexual orientation and appearance.

Amir Haddad, a French-Israeli dentist representing France, finished sixth.

Ukraine’s song, “1944” and sung by the artist Jamala, appeared to walk a fine line over the prohibition that songs not be political. The song appeared to reference the deportation of ethnic Tatars from Crimea by Joseph Stalin during World War II. Jamala is a Tartar.

More than 180 million viewers watch the song contest annually. The winners are picked by popular vote cast through SMS and an official Eurovision app, and by panels of judges in each country.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain automatically qualified for the final because they contribute the most money to the contest. Sweden qualified because it is the reigning champion.

Over the contest’s 61 years, Israel has won Eurovision three times, most recently in 1998, when the transgender singer Dana International brought home the title singing “Diva.”

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