Icelandic Band Who Slammed Israel for 'Apartheid' Makes It to Tel Aviv's Eurovision Final

Frontmen of Hatari, one of 26 groups that will perform in Tel Aviv during Saturday night's Eurovision final, say one of the 'occupation's uglier faces' is the situation in Gaza

Iceland's Hatari rehearses ahead of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.
Iceland's Hatari rehearses ahead of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.Credit: AFP

Hatari, Iceland's leather-clad techno-punk entry, made it through the first Eurovision Song Contest semi-final Tuesday night held in Tel Aviv, after saying that Israel's "political reality is conflicting and absurd" and its "apartheid is clear."

The band, whose song "Hate Will Prevail" won Reykjavik's pre-Eurovision competition, had been politically outspoken about their participation in the song contest even before arriving in Israel. They initially said Iceland shouldn't perform in the contest in Israel, but said that since it already is, the band would come with the declared intention to protest Israeli policy.

When asked by Eurovision blogger William Lee Adams last week if Gaza's rocket barrage and the subsequent Israeli strikes changed their perspective on the trip, Hatari did not mince words.

>> Read more: Want to boycott Tel Aviv Eurovision? BDS staging alternative in BethlehemCocktails, hors d'oeuvres and rockets: The politics of Eurovision

Eurovision "is a beautiful thing, and it is founded in the spirit of unity and peace, but hosting it in a country that's scarred by conflict is of course really political and contradictory," said band member Matthias Tryggvi Haraldsson to Eurovision blog wiwibloggs.

"It's definitely changed our perspective just arriving here," added band member Klemens Nikulásson Hannigan, who described the group's tour of Hebron, where they went with a Palestinian tourguide.

Eurovision in Tel Aviv targeted by protests

After seeing the city's "ghost streets," where Palestinian businesses were closed and Israeli-only roads built, he said, "the segregation is so clear."

Haraldsson agreed. "The occupation has many faces; its uglier one is definitely the one you mentioned in the south now, from Gaza. But you can also see it so obviously in the West Bank and many other places in this country. The political reality is really conflicting and absurd, and the apartheid was so clear in Hebron."

The two agreed, though, that their position as representatives in the competition offers them an international stage. "we still believe we can bring this critical conversation, or make awareness of this situation here, with our message and with our agenda-setting powers," Hannigan said. "Hopefully we will make awareness to the world through Eurovision."

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