Israel's 2022 Eurovision contestant Michael Ben David revealed Tuesday that he experienced antisemitism from the international media during the promotional run of this year's song contest.
Ben David was eliminated in the semi-final stage of the competition, failing to qualify for the grand final in the Italian city of Turin. It was the first time in eight years that an Israeli entry failed to reach the grand final of the event.
"The amount of antisemitism I was exposed to during the interviews in Turin was immense. They would often say, 'Oh you're from Israel? Then we don’t want you’,” Ben David revealed in a special press conference.
The Eurovision contender added that when he was called to the interview podium he was told the interviewers "didn’t want me either, and these acts of little anti-Semitism stay with you”.
“I also saw a lot of Israeli flags in the audience but no flag was actually photographed by the media,” said Ben David, who also responded to his critics from home, who slammed him for seemingly “photobombing” the hosts of the semi-final by kissing them with a miniature Israeli flag in hand.
“Let me say this - I will wave the flag whenever I get the chance… I remember after my performance, we were so happy we danced with the other contestants. It was then, the host told me to ‘stay with us’... Then I thought 'wait a minute if I’m going to stay I might as well bring the flag'.
“If I could, I would go on that stage again, holding the flag and full of pride,” Ben David said, adding that, while Israel did not manage to reach this year's finals, he’s proud of his time and performance at the Eurovision.
“I'm proud of the performance I gave. I landed on Tuesday after a crazy Eurovision experience, the kind which I never thought I would go through… I was terribly scared because everyone told me it was not an easy experience.
“A lot has also happened before I actually flew [to Turin]. In the end, I regret nothing,” said Ben David in reference to reports from earlier this year, according to which he had considered withdrawing from the prestigious competition due to professional disagreements with the Israeli delegation's management.