When Ilanit spoke with Ynetnews late last year, she explained that the rumor caught on because of extra security measures taken at that particular Eurovision competition. The contest took place in Luxembourg on April 7, 1973 – just seven months after 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Summer Olympics in Munich.
“We had a lot of guards around us, everyone who went into the concert hall was searched, and women’s bags were checked – people were not used to it,” said Ilanit. “There was a story that I had a bulletproof vest under my dress for security but it was not true. It was just a story.”
Despite fears of a terror attack, Ilanit shined that evening in Luxembourg’s Nouveau Theatre Municipal. She was the final performer to take the stage, and the song she performed, ‘Ey Sham’ (‘Somewhere’), placed fourth. The composer of ‘Ey Sham,’ Nurit Hirsh, became the second woman to conduct a Eurovision orchestra; the first was Monica Dominique, who conducted the Swedish entry, ‘You’re Summer’ by the Nova and the Dolls, earlier that night.
When Ilanit returned to Israel, she was informed that virtually the entire country had seen her Eurovision performance. “On the evening of Eurovision, there were no people in the streets,” said Ilanit. “Everybody was sitting in front of the television waiting for Eurovision – it was a new thing here in Israel. But, unfortunately, everybody saw it in black and white.”
Ilanit went to Eurovision a second time in 1977, where she performed ‘Ahava Hee Shir Lishnayim’ (‘Love is a Song for Two’) in London and placed eleventh.
She was slated to return to Luxembourg in 1984 to compete for a third time in Eurovision, with the song ‘Balalaika,’ but when the contest was scheduled to coincide with Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day), the entry was withdrawn by the IBA.