Iceland on Saturday made its pick to represent the country at the upcoming Eurovision song contest, choosing a band that has threatened an onstage protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and has issued a challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a bout of Scandinavian combat known as trouser wrestling.
Hatari themes its performances on bondage, domination, and sadomasochism, known as BDSM — not to be confused with BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
The group won the local selection contest with its song “Hatrid Mun Sigra,” Icelandic for “Hatred will prevail” and will now go on to compete in the semifinals scheduled for May 16, in Israel.
In a February interview with Iceland’s biweekly Stundin newspaper, band members spoke of their strong identity with the Palestinian cause, saying they felt it was their duty to use the Eurovision contest as a platform to broadcast their views.
— Eurovision (@Eurovision) March 2, 2019
Under the terms of the contest, participants are prohibited from making political statements at the event.
Hatari criticized its home country for not boycotting the contest because it is being hosted by Israel, a country it said violates human rights.
The band said it would nonetheless participate in order to take its message to as many people as possible in Europe.
Asked about the ban on political activity and the possibility that they would be disqualified if they plan a stage protest, members retorted that they see Eurovision as a political contest and even more so now it is being held in Israel.
“Perhaps we will be driven out of the contest, but it would be just as revealing as any act that we can think of onstage,” band members told Stundin.
At the time of the newspaper interview, an anonymous person speaking on behalf of the band issued a challenge for Netanyahu to face a member in a trouser wrestling contest, Iceland’s national sport.
In an announcement, made in English, on the Rás 2 radio station, the representative said that a UN-sponsored figure would referee the bout, to be held in Tel Aviv on May 19, the day after the Eurovision finals.
According to the challengers, if Netanyahu wins the clash, Israel gets control of Vestmannaeyjar, an archipelago located off the southern coast of Iceland. If the band member wins, then Hatari will set up a liberal BDSM colony in Israel on the Mediterranean coast.
Trouser wrestling involves two contestants gripping each other’s belts and then trying to throw their opponent to the floor.
In accordance with the rules of the contest, Hatari will perform its song in Icelandic, the same language it sang in when they won the local selection contest. Lyrics to the song which took it to the finals include the phrases “love dies,” “Europe collapses,” and “joy ends, it is still an illusion.”
The Eurovision contest is expected to draw tens of thousands of people and massive media attention to Israel. Anti-Israel protesters have zeroed in on the contest as a target for their boycott demands.
Israel will be represented by singer Kobi Marimi, after the 27-year-old won the Rising Star reality singing competition in February.