What various overtures from musician Roger Waters, accusations of copyright infringement, and budget crises failed to accomplish over the last year, was nearly made a reality by Hamas and Islamic Jihad earlier this month: the disturbance, and even cancellation of the Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv. That a flare-up of violence occurred only a week and half prior to the contest was, of course, not coincidental. Leaders in the Gaza Strip and their allies, already angered by Israel’s seemingly slow implementation of promises made to ease conditions in the enclave saw the perfect opportunity to pressure the Israeli government at quite possibly the most inopportune moment. Right-wing politicians, naturally circumspect on these matters, exclaimed that if the government deemed it necessary, the army would launch a much more far-reaching operation into the Strip, cultural events and international reactions be damned.

In reality, however, Israeli MKs, Hamas officials, journalists, pundits, members of the military —  indeed, anyone with even a remote grip on reality and common sense, knew the inevitable outcome of the operation: a hurried ceasefire agreement that essentially gave Hamas everything it had been promised prior to the outbreak of violence. After a year of painstaking preparations that, even under the least stressful of circumstances would have been an ambitious endeavor, there was simply no way the Israeli government was going to let a last-minute flare-up ruin its plans for Eurovision and create an international embarrassment.

This wasn’t simply a matter of prestige, although that’s certainly important. Coming only weeks after his hard-fought victory against former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies likely view the contest as a validation of their efforts to showcase Israel’s talent by successfully mounting a high-profile event, allowing the world to see another side of the country that is too often ignored. But perhaps more importantly, the very act of holding a music competition in Israel — a prestigious, world-renowned one to be sure — allows for a modicum of normalcy, not only for the country’s inhabitants, but for the millions around the world who will be tuning in this week. Of course, Israel is not, and has never been, a normal country given its presence in the West Bank and its relative regional isolation, but for just a few days, all of its problems, both domestic and foreign, will be subsumed in a display of tacky, sequenced costumes and over-the-top musical numbers that will act as welcome distractions for many.

This fixation on normalcy and the nightmare scenario of rocket fire interrupting the music event, or, in an unprecedented move, forcing its outright cancellation, recalls another incident nearly five years ago. In the midst of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas successfully launched a barrage of rockets forcing the FAA to temporarily ban U.S. airlines from flying into Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport.  That the ban lasted for only a short period of time didn’t matter; the damage had already been done. But Israelis know that Ben-Gurion is not simply an airport. It’s a lifeline to the outside world, one of the few conduits that allows its citizens to temporarily escape the country and the ultimate symbol of mundaneness. Conflict that leaves scores of Palestinian civilians dead may often lead to widespread condemnation but, in the end, the international community’s response has been confined to mostly toothless rhetoric, and has not severely affected the country in any meaningful way; perception of Israel as being a war-torn conflict zone where one is liable to incur injury or risk your life is far more damaging to its image and has proven much more difficult to shake off.

The bizarre irony of the right’s quest to erase the abnormality of the occupation and violence it engenders is its simultaneously contradictory insistence in hanging on to the West Bank at all costs. The reasoning for the less messianic parts of the right stems from matters pertaining to security: a pullout from the Palestinian Territories will inevitably lead to rockets falling on the most populated sections of the country, destroying any semblance of a normal existence and making the state an economic liability few would be willing to invest in. But then, in an even more ironic twist, both of these scenarios ultimately benefit the right and confirm its fatalism. Successfully convincing the world that the Palestinian question can be largely ignored or at least sidelined validates those who believe that all it takes is the right amount of publicity. Conversely, any outbreak of violence that results from this suppression of reality is proof that Palestinian maximalism must be resisted at all costs.

The Eurovision contest appears to be proceeding without any major snafus, and both the event planners and relevant government agencies will justifiably receive praise for successfully mounting such an ambitious project. But once the stages are dismantled and the tourists return home, Israelis will be left with a slew of problems including ongoing coalition negotiations that seemed to have stalled, a contentious bill seeking to grant the prime minister immunity, danger of a crackdown on the judiciary, and the ever-looming possibility of annexation. There is nothing immoral in celebrating the state and its accomplishments and taking a break from an overwhelming reality; but it is quite different to do so in an attempt to erase that reality altogether, and as an overall strategy, it is destined to fail.