Hatari And Madonna Show Palestinian Flags At Eurovision In Tel Aviv - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Hatari And Madonna Show Palestinian Flags At Eurovision In Tel Aviv

Published May 19, 2019

Eurovision—the ostensibly apolitical international song contest that is anything but—came to its finale tonight in Tel Aviv. It was won this year by Duncan Laurence from The Netherlands. Much of the post-show conversation, however, has been about Iceland’s Hatari, who revealed Palestinian flags during the last segment of the broadcast.

Hatari finished in 10th place, with a healthy 186 points from the public votes, and 46 from juries, totalling 234. It was Iceland’s sixth best performance since joining the contest in 1986.

But it wasn’t their ranking that made Hatari one of the main talking points of the evening. After dominating the media’s attention in the lead-up to the event—due to their on-the-record pro-Palestine stance—many were expecting an onstage protest from them during their performance.

The band, however, had said they had no such plans, having already received a warning from the European Broadcasting Union about their outspoken conduct.

They left it until the 11th hour—almost their last moment on screen—to unravel three Palestine flags in front of the cameras. Band member Einar Stefánsson posted a video to Instagram soon after of staff attempting to confiscate the flags.

View this post on Instagram

🇯🇴 #eurovision2019

A post shared by Einar Stef (@einar.stef) on

Responses were widespread and immediate, and varied predictably between condemnation—it was loudly booed in the Eurovision arena—and online praise.

While the public debate rages, the formal ramifications will be decided later. A statement from Eurovision read: “In the live broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final, Hatari, the Icelandic act, briefly displayed small Palestinian banners whilst sat in the Green Room. The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and this directly contradicts the Contest rules. The banners were quickly removed and the consequences of this action will be discussed by the Reference Group—the Contest’s executive board—after the Contest.”

In the meantime, the band also posted the Palestinian flag to their newly-started Instagram account, which now has over 45,000 followers.

Keen-eyed viewers also noticed two Palestinian flags in Madonna’s performance, which featured balaclava-clad dancers falling down stairs with projections of flames over them. The European Broadcasting Union and broadcaster KAN have said that the imagery was not included in rehearsals, and that they were unaware of Madonna’s intentions.

The PACBI—the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel—released a statement shortly afterwards saying the campaign “overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line.” Hatari had been urged to withdraw for these reasons, but decided to compete on the grounds that a non-critical act would have been sent in their place.

More news will be reported as it comes in.

Read more about Hatari here.

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