Despite the 5.5 million euro dispute with the Israeli treasury, the supermodel Bar Refaeli has been designated as the main presenter of the Eurovision Song Contest that will be held in Tel Aviv in May. The Israeli public television channel KAN and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) They have unveiled this Friday the secret that has circulated for months: the most glamorous icon of the Hebrew State will lead the gala before more than 200 million viewers. The third tax evasion scandal in which Refaeli is involved has weighed less than her global popularity in the fashion world. Former bride of Leonardo DiCaprio, the quoted mannequin has argued before the tax authorities that she was exempt from declaring her assets in Israel at the time in which she lived with the Californian actor in the United States.
In addition to rehabilitating the image of the supermodel – at least until justice reactivates its causes for tax fraud – the state chain KAN aims to break the 64th Eurovision Contest with the uniformity of gender that marked the two previous editions. There were only men in the team of presenters in Kiev in 2017 and only women in 2018 in Lisbon, where the triumph of Netta Barzilai with the song Toy He granted Israel the right to organize the festival this year.
Refaeli will be accompanied on the stage of the Expo Tel Aviv convention center by the veteran presenter Erez Tal, a renowned figure who has been conducting the local version for ten seasons. Big Brother. The main couple will have support behind the scenes of Assi Azar, who has been in charge of a program equivalent to Triumph operation in which the national contestant in Eurovision is selected, and the young youtuber Israeli Arab Lucy Ayoub, presenter of the Kan network.
Azar, married to Barcelona architect Albert Escolà, actively participates in the defense of the LGTBI community. Ayoub unleashed criticism from the Minister of Culture, the conservative Miri Regev, by using the Arabic language, along with Hebrew and English, to communicate the score assigned by the Israeli jury to the contestants in the last edition of Lisbon.
The four will try to show the world an image of diversity in Israel in the semifinals of the contest, scheduled on May 14 and 16, and in the grand finale on Saturday 18 of the same month. The eurovisiva machinery will be launched next Monday with the transfer of the emblems of previous host cities by the municipality of Lisbon, in a ceremony organized at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. There will be raffled the order of intervention in the semifinals for 36 candidate countries, a screening of which are exempt – apart from Israel as organizer – the contestants from Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.
Tel Aviv was not the first choice of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the venue for Eurovision 2019. His government hoped to hold the contest in Jerusalem, coinciding with the first anniversary of the controversial transfer of the Embassy of the United States to the Holy City. The decision of President Donald Trump, who broke a respected international consensus for 70 years, has only been effectively imitated so far by Guatemala. Israel's state institutions are based in Jerusalem, but the international community considers that the final status of the city, in whose eastern part the Palestinians intend to establish the capital of their future state, should not be fixed until both parties have reached an agreement. of peace.
Netanyahu gave in favor of the cosmopolitan and liberal Tel Aviv in front of the traditionalist and ultra-religious Jerusalem for practical reasons. The EBU plans to organize a general rehearsal on the Friday afternoon before the final, that is, after the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath in which it is not allowed to work, use vehicles or manipulate electrical appliances, among other prohibitions. While in the Holy City the Jewish law of weekly rest is almost abided by, in the coastal metropolis the restrictions are much less rigorous.
The political arguments have also weighed. In order to host an event with the international projection of Eurovision, the Israeli Government had to comply with the conditions of the contest management committee. The Executive of Netanyahu has had to offer "guarantees of security and access for all who want to participate", as well as ensuring that "the contest will have a non-political nature". Israel must also commit to maintaining the "values of diversity and inclusiveness" of Eurovision, according to committee chairman Frank-Dieter Freiling, announcing the selection of Tel Aviv four months ago.
Israel passed legislation two years ago which attributes to the authorities the power to refuse entry to the country by foreigners who have publicly expressed their support for the campaign Boycott, Divestitures and Sanctions (BDS), a pro-Palestinian movement that seeks to promote an international isolation of the Jewish state like the one imposed on the South African apartheid
Always in need of improving an external image often marred by the Palestinian conflict, Israel has chosen to present its most amiable and seductive face at Eurovision thanks to the presence of a global celebrity on the stage of worldly Tel Aviv. The government of Netanyahu hcalibrated the risks of the festival, which will place the country in the international showcase. But it will not be the prosecution's accusations about money laundering and concealment of assets that weigh on Bar Rafaeli that are going to water the great Eurovisiva kermes.