Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

From Israel, with Song

April 27, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A fast conversion to disco tempo enabled Israel to win the Eurovision song contest for the first time since its creation 23 years ago. The song, “Ah-Bah-Nee-Bee,” performed by Izhar Cohen and the Alpha-Beta Singers, simply enthralled the juries because it brought something fresh on the stage of the Palais des Congress here last Saturday night whereas most of the other contestants clung to the kind of music that amassed the most votes in past competitions.

The Israeli group sang something different and very catchy and it was no surprise that they won well ahead of the others. However, before the competition, experts were inclined to believe that France, Belgium or Luxembourg had a good chance of snatching victory in the contest which was seen live by 350 million viewers in countries as far apart as Hong Kong, Finland, Jordan and Dubai.

It must have been a shock for Arab viewers to see Israel crush all opposition in the competition. But the juries from rival countries did not hesitate to express their choice freely without yielding to any kind of moral pressure or hesitation. Israel won with 157 points, a high total, followed by Belgium and France.

It was a very special event for the Israeli group, crowned on the very night of the Passover seder. “I’m thrilled and overwhelmed, “said Cohen as he was jostled by a crowd of photographers and admirers.”It’s real crazy,” he added, surrounded by at least 10 Israeli security guards for safety.

Recommended from JTA