Israel gets 'nil point' for publicity stunt

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The Independent Culture

No matter which mindless mediocrity wins tomorrow's Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, one entry has proved itself worthy of a trophy. The prize for the biggest backfiring publicity stunt goes to Israel.

No matter which mindless mediocrity wins tomorrow's Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, one entry has proved itself worthy of a trophy. The prize for the biggest backfiring publicity stunt goes to Israel.

Its group Ping Pong may be withdrawn from the contest by its sponsors for brandishing Syrian flags before TV cameras during a rehearsal.

The sight of Israelis waving the colours of an arch-enemy would scandalise Jewish opinion any time, but Ping Pong's affront came on Israel's Independence Day, amid patriotic celebrations of the triumph over Arab armies in 1948.

The band say they are drawing attention to the failure of politicians to create peace in the Middle East. The Israel Broadcasting Authority, which finances Ping Pong's entry, is trying to dissuade the group from repeating the stunt before a massive global TV audience.

Israel's deputy education minister, Shlomo Yahalom, wants Ping Pong barred, saying they fail to reflect national values. Ping Pong - two men and two women - upset Israel's religious lobby with a video in which the female singer replaces her microphone with a cucumber, and sings: " Ani rotsah melafefon" - "I want a cucumber". Clearly, this was not to make sandwiches. Tomorrow most of Israel will watch the contest. If Ping Pong win, they can forget about the ticker-tape welcome home.

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