Eurovision Song Contest / 'Push the Button' Okayed for Israel Despite Threat of Ban

HELSINKI, Finland - Eurovision Song Contest organizers said yesterday they have approved this year's Israeli entry, despite earlier statements that it had an inappropriate message and might be banned.

At a meeting in the Finnish capital, the European Broadcasting Union accepted all this year's entries - from a record 42 countries - to be performed in Helsinki in May, but officials would not comment on individual songs.

Finnish organizer Kjell Ekholm said the Israeli song, Teapacks' "Push the Button," was generally appropriate but gave no details. All the entries fit the bill, he said.

Two weeks ago, Ekholm said the message of the song, which has been interpreted as a jab at Iran's hard-line president and his country's nuclear program, was not appropriate for the competition and might be banned.

"Push the Button" is sung in English, French and Hebrew, and its lyrics refer to demonic and crazy rulers.

The group has strongly denied the song refers to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the threat to ban the song has revived the group's 20-year career and "Push the Button" is ubiquitous on Israeli airwaves.

The Eurovision contest will be held in Finland for the first time after the masked local monster band Lordi was the shock winner of the competition last year with its hard-rock entry Hard Rock Hallelujah.