Icelandic band Hatari’s pro-Palestine protest during the 2019 Eurovision finals will be cut out of the official DVD of the event, RÚV reports. The news agency has not yet been able to confirm if the protest will also be cut from the footage that will be made available on streaming site Netflix, but it’s thought likely that it will be.
Hatari unfurled the Palestinian flag on camera during the official vote counting during the 2019 Eurovision Grand Final. The group garnered a great deal of attention prior to and during the event for openly stating that they intended to use Eurovision as a platform to engage in a critical discussion about Israeli-Palestinian relations. “We, of course, hope to see an end to the occupation as soon as possible and that peace will come,” they stated during an interview upon their arrival in Israel. Hatari was joined in its protest by Madonna, whose performance at the Grand Final featured a white-clad dancer bearing the Palestinian flag and a black-clad dancer wearing the Israeli flag. The words ‘WAKE UP’ were also displayed during her performance. Eurovision organisers stated that they were unaware of Madonna’s intentions and that the imagery had not been part of rehearsals ahead of the event.
Hatari’s flag-flying was controversial, as Eurovision maintains that it is a politically neutral event. When asked about breaking the Eurovision rules, one of the group’s singers, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson commented: “It wasn’t necessarily the plan to intentionally break the rules. There’s some undefined line there, and no one knows where it lies.” He continued, however, that the band felt that it was “a contradiction to say that this competition is apolitical” and, moreover, that they felt that it was impossible for them to ignore Israel’s actions toward Palestine during a competition that “is supposed to revolve around unity and peace among men.”
The reaction to Hatari’s protest was mixed, both among Israelis and Palestinians, some of whom dismissed the band’s “fig-leaf gestures of solidarity” and said that its decision to perform at all in Israel represented the “crossing our peaceful picket line.” Eurovision authorities and attendees were similarly unamused: the band was immediately forced to forfeit their Palestinian flags and were booed by some crowd members. Hatari also alleged that they were intentionally split up and given the worst seats on their El Al flight home from Israel in retaliation for their demonstration.
As yet, Eurovision has not definitively stated if Iceland will face repercussions for Hatari’s demonstration, which event organisers have stated were in violation of its rules.