Iceland sending outspoken Israel critics to Eurovision

Hatari, a BDSM techno punk three-man band/performance art group, won Iceland's Söngvakeppnin national selection competition on Saturday night, and will represent the country this year.

March 3, 2019 14:43
2 minute read.
Hatari, Iceland's Eurovision contestant this year.

Hatari, Iceland's Eurovision contestant this year.. (photo credit: RUV)


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Iceland is sending what will undoubtedly be one of the most colorful, outlandish and controversial Eurovision acts this year to Tel Aviv. And the group has already made waves for its harsh criticism of Israel, with some people speculating the band could end up disqualified from the competition.

Hatari, a BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) techno-punk band/performance art group, won Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin national selection competition on Saturday night, and will represent the country this year at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The band, who will be performing “Hatrio Mun Sigra” (“Hate Will Prevail”), a controversial pick. The three-man group has raised eyebrows with its bondage-inspired attire, angry lyrics and outspoken political agenda.

Hatari claim the band’s aim is to bring an end to capitalism. They have heavily criticized Israel, as well as challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a traditional Icelandic wrestling match.

In an interview with the Icelandic newspaper Stundin last month, the band said it wants to use its Eurovision performance to criticize Israel.

“It is really absurd to allow a state that repeatedly violates human rights to participate in such a competition, whether the state is called Israel, Russia, Qatar or anything else,” the band said in the interview. “If Iceland’s contestant does not use their influence to point out the obvious, the absurdity of frolicking and dancing at the same time as millions live just a few miles away with reduced freedom and constant uncertainty about their own wellbeing and safety, then we have failed. If Iceland’s contestant ignores the fact that the competition is inherently political, he does little to diminish the need for a critical conversation about Israel.”

Hatari has long been a divisive and controversial Icelandic act, and many people have speculated that they could be disqualified from the competition by the European Broadcasting Union. The EBU rules state that “no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest.”

In the Stundin interview, Hatari seemed to think that being disqualified – and canceling Iceland’s participation in this year’s Eurovision – would be the ideal outcome.

“Perhaps we will be kicked out of the competition, but that would be just as revealing as anything we could do on stage,” band members said. “If Iceland is kicked out of the contest – that is fine by us.”

And during a video interview that aired as part of Söngvakeppnin, the band cast scorn on the entire Eurovision itself.

“The competition is one of the largest-ever international events that has been hosted in Israel,” they said. “The competition is an image of glamour, a lie, whitewashing, a machine of propaganda and a mill of treachery. Our goal is to uncover this mill of treachery.”

Last month, the group issued a call challenging Netanyahu to a traditional Icelandic wresting match, featuring a “neutral UN-sponsored referee.” The band said it was challenging the Israeli prime minister “to a friendly match of traditional Icelandic trouser-grip wrestling, or glíma.” Hatari said if they win, they will be allowed to establish a liberal BDSM colony in Israel, and if Netanyahu wins, the Israeli government “will be given full political and economic control of South-Icelandic Island municipality Vestmannaeyjar.”

If Hatari makes it to the Eurovision in Tel Aviv in May without being disqualified or blocked from competing, it is bound to be an interesting show.

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