Israel is geographically part of Asia, but for three things, it is considered part of Europe: Basketball, Soccer and Eurovision. Eurovision is an annual song contest run by the European Broadcasting Union. Member countries hold contests within their countries to decide who should represent the country in Eurovision. The contest is held in a different country every year, and all member countries vote on a winner. Israel won the event three times; in 1978 with "Abanibi," in 1979 with "Halleluja" and in 1998 with "Diva." Eurovison has always had an overtone of peace and love, and Israel's back to back victories in Eurovision may have been because the European community felt like encouraging Israel in it's efforts to make peace with Egypt at the time. Israel's entry in 2007, called "Push The Button" by Tea Packs, was a rare exception to the peaceful themes usually presented; it is a song about the threat of nuclear attack of Israel by Iran. There was discussion of banning the song from the contest, or possibly censoring the lyrics. Regardless of what the officials of Eurovision thought of the song, Tea Packs' performance in a small club in Helsinki during the week of the contest was packed wall to wall with supporters.
Tea Packs (or Tippex, as they are called in Israel) is an Israeli band from the often shelled city of Sderot. Their lead singer, Kobi Oz, of Moroccan descent, is well known for his eccentric style and looks. The song, "Push The Button" was sung in Hebrew, English and French in order to make the song understood by as many Europeans as possible, and to take advantage of Oz's linguistic skill; French is his native tongue, even though he grew up in Israel.
For more thoughts on Israel's participation in Eurovision see Robbie Gringras' "Eurovisionland," and David Bryfman's list of Israeli Eurovision entrants.
And now the videos:
Abanibi - Yizhar Cohen: Eurovision Winner 1978
(Check out Yizhar's "Off-The-Wall-Like-Michael-Jackson-In-The-70's Jewfro.")
Halleluja - Milk and Honey: Eurovision Winner 1979
Check out the fancy choreography!)
Diva - Dana International: Eurovision Winner 1998
(Notice the background singers are not anywhere near Dana. That's because they were born as women, as opposed to Dana who was born a man.)
Push The Button - Tea Packs