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Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Eurovision or Euro blindness? The farce brewing behind Israels entry Who is really 'Pushing the Button' ?

It has been written about, talked about and debated about. It's the hottest topic at the moment in the Eurovision Contest. There is talk that Eurovision is considering to ban Israeli band Tea Pack's entry due to its lyrics on nuclear war.

The film clip from Teapacks features imagery of an 'Iranian looking flag'
with what look like ICBM's coming from the direction of Iran impacting in Israel.

Eurovision Song Contest organizers have threatened they might ban this year's Israeli entry, Teapacks' Push the Button, because of what they termed its inappropriate political message.

The song, to be performed at the contest in Helsinki in May, overwhelmingly won Israel's competition the last Wednesday.

It is sung in English, French and Hebrew and seemingly refers indirectly to Iran's nuclear ambitions and its hard-line leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Click here to see Teapacks play :'Push the button'

Kjell Ekholm

It seems that the decision might already have been made if we take the opinion of one of the organisers

''It's absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition,''

said Kjell Ekholm, an organizer of the contest.

"We'll have all the delegation leaders here in Helsinki next week, and I'm sure we'll talk about this case within the EBU [European Broadcasting Union] group."

From the research that Bagelblogger has done, it seems the problem lays with the so called 'political nature' of the song.
In the European Broadcasting Unions rules for the 2007 Eurovision song contest [pdf] ,in section four: The Entries, clause number 9 which reads:

"The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Shows or the
ESC as such into disrepute. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar
nature shall be permitted during the ESC. No swearing or other unacceptable
language shall be allowed in the lyrics or in the performances of the songs. A
breach of this rule may result in disqualification."

What's of special interest is the preceding Clause 8 which allows for changes to lyrics, name of the group, titles, videos, backgrounds etc to be changed before the meeting of the delegates. The meeting of the delegates is next week as previously informed by Kjell Ekholm.

Now I don't have a full translation of the lyrics of the song,(see bottom of this article), but if the lyrics are only political in context to; and with the background video, then by changing the background video as to not display a facsimile of any countries flag, and other subtle changes, then is it fair to pose the question are the 'political underpinnings' which the song is accused of having, still there?

This of course presupposes that the video clearly suggests that Mahmoud is the political leader they're talking about in the verse line "There are some crazy rulers they hide and try to fool us", I think its far to say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not the only nut on a palm in the middle east.
To me this seems to be more of a pacifist song, expressing concern for dying rather than any grand political statement.
It seems to me lyrics such as:

"And I don't want to die
I want to see the flowers bloom
Don't want a go capoot ka boom
And I don't want to cry",

don't seem to be overly political in my interpretation. Are these lyrics political?
Or is it rather a case of fear of Islamphobia gone hay wire?

Teapack's lead singer Kobi Oz told Ynet.co.il:

“I know this song is not political. Some may think it refers to Israeli leaders, some may think it talks about other countries’ leaders. We are not taking sides. The message we wish to convey is that we all want to live, smell the flowers bloom and have fun.”

Are the shows organisers taking the cowardly way out?

What's even more interesting is why Kjell Ekholm, the Entertainment manager for the Host Finnish Broadcaster YLE has chosen to come out and state

''It's absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition,''

when Svante Stockselius, the executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the EBU has clearly stated via the Eurovision Israel website in context to the recent days turmoil regarding the Israeli entry to the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, Push the button, by Teapacks. :

"We have been informed about the situation, but will take no actions of any kind with any of the songs until they are officially handed in, that is next Monday", says Stockselius. "I have no idea why the discussion about the Israeli song came up just now. On Monday we will go through all the 42 songs to see if they are following all aspects of our rules".

In the meantime, supporters of Israel's entry to Eurovision have opened an online petition in favor of the Israeli entry, on Teapacks' website. You can find it at www.teapacks.coo.co.il.

The question remains has Kjell Ekholm jumped the gun in his eagerness
to advocate banning the Israeli band, and if so why is he so eager?

Is Israel being victimised due to ulterior motives?

With Finland being the 2007 host of the Eurovision Song contest, it seems Kjell Ekholm who was the bass guitarist in the popular 80's Finnish rock band Paul Oxley's Unit may have already made up his mind? Ekholm is now the Entertainment Manager for the popular Swedish speaking FST (Finlands Svenska Television) Channel which broadcasts over Finlands airways, and just happens to be the Host broadcaster for Eurovision this year.

Tea Pack's song warns about the dangers of nuclear war, and the lyrics of the song refer to demonic and crazy rulers, and say that he's gonna blow us up to ... kingdom come.
From my knowledge of the lyrics of the song, no particular leader of the insane world, is mentioned.

Now which crime is worse? threatening to commit genocide on a scale that could surpass the holocaust or possibly having a slight political 'flavor' in a peacenik song about not wanting war.

It would seem the Eurovision song competition has some priorities to re-order.

The Eurovision contest will be held in Finland for the first time after the local monster band Lordi was the shock winner of the competition last year with their hard-rock entry Hard Rock Hallelujah.

Of the 18 songs that competed to be Bulgaria's entry in the competition, the one that won was dropped after it emerged that it was a copy of a song by Israeli artists Ron Shoval and Subliminal. The Bulgarian version even kept the original Hebrew-language chorus.

If Tea Packs song does get 'banned and they themselves don't get disqualified, its interesting that the very next song that was voted second was Teapacks Salaam Salami.

and as one commenter [Soccerdad] on Little Green Footballs [#181] said:

"The song makes fun of the concept of land-for-peace using a tongue-in-cheek allegory of a man and his salami sandwich to represent the Jewish people and their homeland. The sandwich owner’s willingness to make peace on the basis of compromise with a fellow who wants his salami sandwich leads to the continuous slicing of the salami and ends with the other fellow throwing him out the window and taking the sandwich."

Even the Band's leader Kobi Oz thinks this is unsuitable for Eurovision.

He was quoted, just before Israelis judged "Push the Button' as their favorite, that:

"The song 'Salam salami' was not supposed to enter the final. We included another song, with lyrics from the bible. When it was brought to our knowledge that it was against the contest's regulations, we replaced it with 'Salam salami'. We believe this song is not suitable for the Eurovision Song Contest ...[ ]"

Too Political

Well if Tea Pack's Song 'Push the Button' is banned for being 'political' this can only be because it advocates peace, if so then why are there so many songs previously which were registered as entries in Eurovision, who clearly advocated peace?

Examples include:

The 1996 entry from Ireland The Voice.
Norways 1997 entry 'Make Love not War'
Malta's Entry in 1999 Believe N Peace
and even Finland's 2005 entry Why? seems to be a song that speaks of violence and advocates peace
Last year in 2006 Cyprus had the song Why Angels Cry

Why the Upraoar?
Simply stated the Eurovision song contest has featured many songs on themes of wanting peace, why the uproar now?

The sad fact is it appears advocating peace has now become a Political Stand, which is a sad reflection on the current policies of appeasement toward those that so willingly advocate war.

If the Finnish National Finals are anything to go by, [they were surrounded in controversy and major voting malfunctions] it would seem Kjell Ekholm, the Finnish member of the EBU Eurovision reference group might want to spend a little more time co coordinating the broadcasting rather than pushing his own agenda's.

Despite the Finnish government supporting the Broadcaster to the tune of 4 million euros for the international broadcast, the series of finals leading up to the National Finnish final were anything but reassuring!

a commentor on Isrealated left this comment on Bagel's aggregated post :

In 1982 the Finnish entry was a very political song solely about bombs, and nobody had a problem with that. Maybe because the bombs weren't Iranian, but American and Russian.

Yet again Israel is singled out.

Enclosed is a link to the (very poorly translated) words to the Finnish entry back in 1982.
The song title literally means "Sleep while bombs are falling" ie to be unaware of imminent danger and/or oversleep.

And here's the hilariously inept video for the song : Here

The Song's Lyrics:

The world is full of terror

If someone makes an error

He's gonna blow us up to biddy biddy kingdom come

There are some crazy rulers

They hide and try to fool us

With demonic, technologic willingness to harm

They're gonna push the button, push the button

Push the bu... push the bu... push the button

Push the button, push the button

Push the bu... push the bu... push the button

There's a lot of suffering

In the streets there's too much violence

And we stand a good chance of staying alive, even unscathed

Tactical advancement of a fanatical regime

A tragic situation that brings tears to my eyes

And I don't wanna die

I wanna see the flowers bloom

Don't wanna go kaput kaboom

And I don't wanna cry

I wanna have a lot of fun just sitting in the sun

But nevertheless

He's gonna push the button, push the button

Push the bu... push the bu... push the button

Push the button, push the button

Push the bu... push the bu... push the button

Messages are exploding on me

Missiles are flying are also landing on me

Cops and robbers are running all over me

And they're jumping me, getting on my case

Alas, alas, answer me, my God, hi

This nightmare is too long

When I'm barely alive and everyone is aiming at me

Maybe it's too late to sing that I gave her my life

Police, rescue team

It made it to the Kdam, a song with no peace

Red is not just a colour, it's more like blood

Again I'm stopping the breathing in my heart

So I won't drop dead

First it's a war, now it's resuscitation

Boom boom, that's what is happening now

In between a rocket and a machete, a viewer and a reporter

Underhanded opportunism and a kidnapee, rain and a heatwave

An escalation in the levels is setting up camp

Nothing, nothing, that's what everyone is doing

Hardliners become more extreme and officers more serious

The naive become more moderate, waiting for the data

And reply (that everyone is helpless)

A world full of demons where we are nothing but pawns

And champions with gambling chips decide the outcome

Sluggish management, a ship filled with water

And everyone is drinking to good health, and drowning

Maybe it's too sharp

We should sing palm tree songs, desert songs with no flags

I'm still alive, alive, alive

And if it keeps on being scary, only then will I say:

I'm gonna push the button, push the button

Push the bu... push the bu... push the button

Push the button, push the button

Push the bu... push the bu... push the button

Eurovil: Israels TeaPacks entry via video
EuroSong contest: Historical archive of songs
Teapacks.com: Home [Hebrew]

Hattip to: Yid with Lid for Song lyric update

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