The annual Eurovision Song Contest is right around the corner, and as that fateful date approaches, calls for Hatari to be booted from the competition have grown louder, coming this time from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and UK Lawyers for Israel. In a recently released statement, the crux of their argument rests upon Rule 2.6 of the Eurovision Song Contest, which states:
“The ESC is a non-political event. All Participating Broadcasters, including the Host Broadcaster, shall ensure that all necessary steps are undertaken within their respective Delegations and teams in order to make sure that the ESC shall in no case be politicized and/or instrumentalized … No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted during the ESC.”
Since when did being political matter?
Both these groups have stated that the overtly critical message of Hatari’s song, ‘Hatrið mun sigra,’ contravenes the spirit of Eurovision. This naturally raises questions about consistency of application of the rules, as there are many examples of political Eurovision acts we can turn to that were not only not banned, but in fact applauded.
For example, Pollapönk, another Icelandic Eurovision entry, made their way into the competition with an expressly anti-racist song. Further afield, there are numerous examples of Eurovision songs that have blatantly political messages. The competition has been used as a platform to advocate for queer rights, to question Russian dominance in eastern Europe, and even to draw attention to the Armenian genocide.
Will hate prevail?
All this being the case, the problem these two groups have with Hatari probably has nothing to do with the song itself, the lyrics for which are a vague, pessimistic vision of future Europe, and more to do with Hatari’s stated intention of making a statement against the Israeli government’s policies towards the Palestinian people.
Granted, that intent likely falls outside the purview of the song contest. Whether that warrants a ban is a whole other story, and if that ban were to come to pass, it would raise an important question: should Eurovison’s “no politics” rule matter all the time, or is it time to review the need for this rule in the first place?
The best support is boycott
Most recently, The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urged Hatari to withdraw voluntarily, rather than be banned altogether. Their reasoning is decidedly different from that of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, naturally—PACBI believes the best support for the Palestinian people that Hatari could show would be to boycott Eurovision altogether, as many have already done.
As PACBI is a founding member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a grassroots campaign from the Palestinian people themselves, it naturally provides the band with an interesting choice: go to Tel Aviv to make a statement supporting Palestine, or honour the wishes of a Palestinian group and simply not attend at all.
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