Hatari Pro-Palestine Protest to be Cut from Eurovision DVD

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.

Bookies Give Iceland 4% Chance of Winning Eurovision

Hatari Eurovision

Online bookies are predicting that Iceland will come in 8th place at the Eurovision Song Contest Final on Saturday. Per the current odds on EurovisionWorld.com, The Netherlands are well-placed to triumph, with a 47% of winning tonight. Iceland, on the other hand, has a 4% chance of winning, odds it shares with Italy, Russia, and Azerbaijan.

Predictions have Australia coming in second place, although if the country wins (current odds, 12%), the competition would be hosted in an as yet to be determined European country. Switzerland is predicted to come in third place.

Iceland has earned second place twice in the competition: in 1999, for Selma‘s “All Out of Luck” and 2009, for Yohanna’s “Is It True?”. The country has never won Eurovision. By making it through the semi-final, however, Hatari has already exceeded Iceland’s showings in recent years; the country has not qualified for the final since 2014.

Eurovision Act Hatari: “We Hope to See an End to the Occupation”

Hatari

Icelandic Eurovision act Hatari stated they wish to see the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestine in a Eurovision press conference yesterday. Band members Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson and Klemens Nikúlasson Hannigan answered questions from reporters during the band’s first press conference for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. “Well we, of course, hope to see an end to the occupation as soon as possible and that peace will come. We are hopeful,” said Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson.

A reporter asked Hatari if they intend to make a political statement during their stay in Israel, especially in light of the events of recent days in Israel. The events refer to the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel where 23 people have lost their lives. Qassam rockets from Palestine were fired upon Israel, and the Israel military shelled the Gaza area as well as directing airstrikes on the area.

Matthías of Hatari responded so to the question: “The comment I think you’re referring to is one we gave in Icelandic media. What we said was we would use out agenda-setting influence that comes through participation, or that really comes through any spectacle that catches the public eye. Through this agenda-setting influence, we would try to uphold a critical discussion around the context in which this contest is being held. And that is what we’ve tried to do in our conversations with various media and will continue doing. In regards to what happens on the stage itself, we are determined to take part in the contest and comply with the rules, just like everyone else.”

The moderator of the discussion attempted to shut down any further comments and questions on this subject, but Hatari member Klemens Nikúlasson Hannigan asked the reporter to finish his question. After the duo of Matthías and Klemens consulted each other, Matthías commented further: “Well we, of course, hope to see an end to the occupation as soon as possible and that peace will come. We are hopeful.”

The whole discussion and their answers can be seen in the video below. The discussion regarding Israel’s occupation of Palestine starts at around the 17:45 mark in the video.

Hatari will represent Iceland in the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest which will take place in Tel Aviv on May 14. Should Hatari advance to the final, they will perform on May 18 in the Expo Tel Aviv arena.

When the Icelandic national broadcast channel RÚV asked Hatari about the press conference, they had this to say: “There was a press conference where we received a lot of good questions, but admittedly the moderator tried to censor us. But we didn’t let her control that,” said Klemens. Matthías stated that they had been warned about this, “We attempted to bring our matters forward, and spoke about the fact that it would be preferable that the occupation came to a stop. It would have been preferable to delve deeper into that subject but we might attempt to do so in conversation with reporters,” Matthías added.