Just before midnight in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 12, 2018, Netta Barzilai made history. She won the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel, capturing the hearts of millions across Europe and bringing the competition back to the Jewish state for the first time in 20 years.
Barzilai, a 25-year-old native of Hod Hasharon and a veteran of the Israel Navy band, was selected to represent Israel by the Kochav Haba televised singing contest earlier in the year. And almost as soon as the music video for “Toy,” Israel’s 2018 Eurovision song, was released, Barzilai sat atop the betting charts as a favorite to win. And although the competition seemed close by the end, the singer won over juries from just five countries. However, millions of voters around Europe cast their vote for Barzilai, clinching the win for Israel – its first since 1998.
Since being crowned winner, Barzilai has toured the globe, performing “Toy” and bringing her message of empowerment to even more people.
In her US television debut in July on NBC’s The TODAY Show, Barzilai said, “This is an amazing time when women are finding their voices,” adding that her winning song “gives power to anyone who’s been struck down, who’s been bullied – it’s to everyone who has been told that they can’t be what they want to be.”