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- Michael Balaban
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia President and CEO


With the overwhelming amount of disinformation being spread on college campuses and social media recently, it is easy to think that support for Israel is wavering. However, we must remember that we have support from people nationally and around the globe who believe in Israel’s right to defend itself.


I was reminded of this last Saturday during the finale of the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual, international competition that millions of people around the world tune into every year. This year, Israel’s entry was called “Hurricane,” a heartbreaking tribute to the victims of Oct. 7 sung proudly and fearlessly by 20-year-old Eden Golan.


Golan’s journey through the competition was bittersweet. She received numerous death threats, with her security advising her to stay in her hotel room at all times outside of performances and was audibly booed while on stage. What was supposed to be a powerful, diplomatic coming together of countries on the international stage wound up fueling hatred and intolerance. People compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to those of Russia’s – which was excluded from Eurovision after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine – and spread false narratives that Israel bought its way into the competition.


Despite all of the hostility and threats thrown at Golan and Israel, “Hurricane” received the second-highest tally in the public vote and came in fifth overall in the competition. In-person crowds cheered to drown out the sounds of jeers and people from all over the world watched Golan sing about the emotional turmoil Israelis are feeling right now.


While these results gave me a lot of hope, the actions that preceded them set a dangerous precedent for international events. As athletes around the world prepare for the Summer Olympics in Paris, I am reminded of the massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, where 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed.


As we approach the Opening Ceremony at the end of July, we must not be complacent about this increasing hatred. We must honor the true spirit of these events, and not let violence overrun these opportunities for coexistence. Israel must not be framed as a villain.


With the memory of those who have given their lives for Israel still fresh in my mind after this week’s Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s memorial day, this sentiment is of utmost importance. We must continue to remind the world of Hamas’ terror, of Israel’s suffering and of the hostages still in Gaza.


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