Response To Hatari's Performance At Eurovision Swift, Drawing Praise And Condemnation - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Response To Hatari’s Performance At Eurovision Swift, Drawing Praise And Condemnation

Published May 20, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
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Last Saturday, anti-capitalist BDSM technocore art rockers Hatari finished in 10th place at the Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel Aviv, but it was not their song, ‘Hatrið Mun Sigra’, which elicited the strongest response—rather, it was their displaying scarves stylised after the Palestinian flag that kicked off a slew of responses of both praise and condemnation, making it especially apparent that Palestinian responses to the performance are anything but a monolith.

This Twitter thread, started by Palestinian marathon runner Mohammad AlQadi, was overwhelmingly filled with praise for Hatari’s stand. Nobel Peace Prize nominee and former Palestinian presidential candidate Mustafa Barghouti was also pleased, Stundin reports, echoing sentiments the band themselves have made about why they chose to compete.

“As you probably know, it is our general principle that musicians should boycott Eurovision,” Barghouti said. “But we understand Hatari’s perspective, that if they had boycotted the competition, another performer would have simply been sent in their place.” He also praised the band for the many occasions they spoke up on the Palestinian cause while in Israel.

Closer to home, Vísir spoke with Nasser Faisal Albhaisi, a Palestinian man living in Iceland, who said that what Hatari did “pleased my heart and soul. Now our struggle has received global attention. We will never forget Iceland for this. It will go down in the history books.”

It was not all praise from Palestinians, however, when it came to Hatari’s performance, both onstage and off. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) reiterated their position that Hatari should have boycotted altogether, tweeting that the organisation “overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line.”

Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, took much the same position, tweeting, “If someone crossed a union picket line to be a scab but flashed a union badge ‘in solidarity’ with strikers it doesn’t take much explaining to know this is bullshit. Not sure why it’s so hard for some to understand when it comes to the Palestinian boycott call.”

In conversations with Israelis, Vísir found that while most of the people they spoke to condemned Hatari’s displaying of the Palestinian colours, they were also not of one monolithic opinion. One person reporters spoke with about Iceland’s performance, Moria, recognised that while Israelis by and large were displeased with Hatari, she was for her part supportive, saying in part, “This is a problem in Israel. I love everyone, but there is no peace here. Not everyone likes everyone else. This is a difficult situation but I believe that one fine day people will live together in peace.”

The response from the Israeli government was less nuanced. RÚV reports that Miri Regev, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport, told reporters that Hatari’s performance had been “a mistake”, adding that politics and culture should not mix. This is much the same position that Eurovision organisers expressed, who in a written statement said in part that “the consequences of this action will be discussed by the Reference Group—the Contest’s executive board—after the Contest.”

Farther afield, two petitions are currently circulating in response to Eurovision: one calling for Iceland to be banned from Eurovision, and another calling for Israel to be disqualified from future Eurovision performances.

All this being the case, it is apparent that opinions over Hatari’s actions at Eurovision are decidedly mixed, but very few people are of less than strong opinions on the matter.

More coverage of Hatari here.

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