When overweight singer Netta Barzilai became the first Israeli to win the Eurovision contest in 20 years, Twitter users were shocked to read that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had tweeted, “[Netta], you’re a cow!”
How did that happen? Netta is known for finishing her performances with the words, “Kappara aleichem!” (“Atonement for you all!”). When Natanyahu said “kappara alaich!” (“atonement for you!”), Microsoft Translator read kappara as keparah – “like a cow.” However, the translation was still wrong, as keparah alaich means “like a cow on you.”
Absurdly, after Netta was declared winner, the prime minister tweeted, “Netta, at kappara amitit,” using kappara as an adjective, which could be correctly read in Hebrew as “Netta, you’re like a real cow!”
However, Netta never seemed to question Netanyahu’s intentions, as the two met shortly after her return to Israel and performed Netta’s “chicken dance” together:
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 16, 2018
Microsoft has seemingly fixed Translator since the incident, as the word kappara is now translated as “sweetheart” when used as an adjective.
Held annually since 1956 with 63 countries participating over the years, the Eurovision is watched by about 200 million people worldwide each year. As Israel won the contest, it will host the Eurovision next year. Participating 41 times since 1973, it was Israel’s fourth win overall, after the wins in 1978, 1979 (in which the contest was held in Jerusalem for the same reason) and 1998.
Netta’s song, “Toy,” carried a feminist message, was sang almost entirely in English (The only Hebrew line was “Ani lo booba” – “I’m not a doll.”) and used internationally famous names such as Wonder Woman and Pikachu: