BDS rejects Icelandic group’s pro-Palestinian Eurovision protest

Boycott movement calls Hatari’s defiant display of Palestinian flags at contest finals a ‘fig-leaf gesture,’ chides group for performing in Israel

Iceland's Hatari holds up Palestinian flags during Eurovision in Tel Aviv, May 19, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)
Iceland's Hatari holds up Palestinian flags during Eurovision in Tel Aviv, May 19, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

Activists in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on Saturday rejected a pro-Palestinian gesture from Iceland’s entry into the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.

Several members of the band Hatari held up Palestinian banners to the cameras as their vote total was announced during the finals of the competition, held this year in Tel Aviv.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which had called for a total boycott of the show, dismissed the protest.

“Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line,” the group wrote on its Twitter account.

“Artists who insist on crossing the Palestinian boycott picket line, playing in Tel Aviv in defiance of our calls, cannot offset the harm they do to our human rights struggle by ‘balancing’ their complicit act with some project with Palestinians. Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects this fig-leafing,” the group said. “The most meaningful expression of solidarity is to cancel performances in apartheid Israel.”

The BDSM-themed punk bank had drawn attention leading up to the contest for saying it would be “absurd” to perform in Israel because of its policies toward the Palestinians and had vowed to use the Eurovision spotlight to expose the “face of the occupation.”

In the end, the band finished its performances without incident.

At a press conference after Wednesday’s semifinal, Hatari offered a purely positive message. “We need to unite and remember to love,” the band said, citing “hate that’s on the rise in Europe.”

After Saturday night’s protest gesture, a band member sporting a spiked leather face mask posted a video online showing security trying to confiscate the flags. The European Broadcast Union said the flag display contradicted its rules and may carry consequences, according to Reuters.

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