Ethiopian-Israel pop star Eden Alene finishes 17th in Eurovision song contest


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — It wasn’t Israel’s year at the Eurovision international song contest.

The country, represented by 21-year-old Ethiopian-Israel pop star Eden Alene, placed 17 out of 26 on Saturday. Italian band Måneskin took first place.

The jury gave Alene’s “Set Me Free” 73 points, putting it at number 12. But callers, who account for half of the final score, gave the song only 20 points out of hundreds of their disposal, knocking the song down to 17. Tens of millions of people routinely watch the finals, held this year in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

Alene, who was born in Jerusalem to Jewish immigrant parents, served in the Israel Defense Forces before a breakout performance on Israel’s version of “The X Factor” show. She was supposed to perform the hit “Feker Libi” by the internationally-acclaimed Israeli songwriter Idan Raichel at Eurovision 2020, which would have been the first song ever performed in Amharic at the contest in its 65 years. But the 2020 contest was canceled due to COVID-19 and performers needed to switch titles.

Israel’s Netta Barzilai won the 2018 contest with her song “Toy,” which landed her both the jury and the popular vote. The country has won the contest a total of four times — 1978, 1979, 1998 and 2018.

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