Eurovision Organizers May Punish Icelandic Band for pro-Palestinian Banners

Hatari, whose members have said Israel's 'apartheid is clear,' apparently violated the song contest's rule forbidding the promotion of political messages

Hatari of Iceland perform the song "Hatrio mun sigra" during the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest grand final in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, May 18, 2019.
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

The organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest may punish Icelandic band Hatari after its members displayed pro-Palestinian banners during the finals event on Saturday in Tel Aviv, apparently violating the contest's ban on promoting political causes.

The contest's executive board will discuss "the consequences of this action," a statement said.

A member of Hatari posted a video on Instagram showing an event employee insisting that the band hand over the banners, which featured the Palestinian flag and the word "Palestine."

>> Israel put its best face forward in a Eurovision that succeeded in all ways but one | Analysis

Eurovision rules say that no messages "promoting any organization, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services" are allowed in the show, and that breaching the rule may result in disqualification.

Hatari previously said 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.

Following the band's display of the banners, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which describes itself as "tasked with overseeing the academic and cultural boycott aspects of BDS," published a tweet featuring an image of the incident and stating that "Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line." The tweet also contained the campaign's previous statement calling on Hatari to withdraw from the contest and asserting that artists playing in the contest "cannot offset the harm they do to our human rights struggle by 'balancing' their complicit act with some project with Palestinians."

Saturday's event saw another apparent breach in the rule forbidding political messages when during superstar Madonna's performance, two of her dancers turned their back – and one had a Palestinian flag pinned to their back, while the other featured an Israeli flag.