Monday, September 16, 2019

Icelandic Eurovision band protests against Israel, faces punishment


By J.J. Rhies - May 20, 2019
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [BDS]

 

The Icelandic band Hatari faces potential punitive action after unfurling Palestinian flags during the Eurovision Song Contest finale, which was broadcast live to millions of viewers.

 

This year’s Eurovision, hosted by Israel, drew thousands of fans across the Western world, as well as hundreds of activists who protested against the event all week.

 

The activists believe that the contest being held in Israel obfuscates the state’s decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories and grave violations of Palestinian human rights.

 

Video footage briefly showed Hatari holding up Palestinian flags as the score for their performance was announced in Tel Aviv on Saturday, May 18.

 

Hatari’s action, which prompted boos from the crowd, could be seen for only a few seconds before the camera switched angles.

 

A member of the band also posted a Twitter video showing Eurovision staff confiscate some of their Palestinian flags.

 

Eurovision later said in a statement that the event is “non-political,” and that Hatari could face punishment for its protest.

 

“The banners were quickly removed and the consequences of this action will be discussed by the reference group after the contest,” the statement added.

 

Outside the Expo Tel Aviv, where the contest took place, some 25 anti-occupation activists held a demonstration against the event.

 

The activists held signs that read: “Stop pinkwashing Israeli apartheid,” “End the siege” and “Boycott apartheid.”

 

Passers-by, many of them waving LGBTQ or Israeli flags, looked on confusedly. Some of the fans booed as they walked by; others yelled curses or told them, “Get a job” or “Go home.”

 

In addition to Hatari’s protest, Madonna made a political statement during her performance at the finale.

 

As her concert came to a close, two dancers walked arm in arm with their backs facing the audience. One dancer had an Israeli flag on their back and the other a Palestinian flag.

 

Anti-occupation activists and supporters of the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement repeatedly called on Madonna to cancel her Eurovision performance in the months leading up to the event.

 

In a statement earlier this week, she said she would neither relent to boycott calls nor stop advocating for human rights.

 

“I'll never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be,” she said.

 

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which co-produced Eurovision with a local Israeli broadcaster, stated that Madonna had “not cleared” the political statement with either EBU or the Israeli station.  

 

 

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