Iceland's Eurovision act: Israel is apartheid

Hatari said they took a tour of Hebron on Saturday and saw 'the face of the occupation.'

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May 6, 2019 22:02
2 minute read.
Hatari holds its first rehearsal at the Expo Tel Aviv on Sunday

Hatari holds its first rehearsal at the Expo Tel Aviv on Sunday. (photo credit: THOMAS HANSES/EBU)

 
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Hatari, Iceland’s controversial Eurovision act, said in an interview in Tel Aviv this week that Israel is an apartheid state.

The two frontmen of the band – which arrived in Tel Aviv on Friday evening – gave a video interview on Sunday to the popular Eurovision blog wiwibloggs. The pair, Klemens Hannigan and Matthías Haraldsson, told wiwibloggs founder William Lee Adams that they had spent Saturday on a tour of Hebron.

“We went to Hebron, yesterday, which is a Palestinian city,” said Hannigan. “And there we had a Palestinian guide take us around... there are streets that we walked along which are called ghost streets or ghost town, and all Palestinian businesses have been closed down, and the segregation is so clear, because Palestinians are not allowed to enter these ghost streets.”
Haraldsson added that: “the occupation has many faces, a clear one is definitely the one you mentioned in the South now, in Gaza,” he said. Israel, of course, pulled all military and civilian presence out of Gaza in 2005.

Haraldsson continued that “the political reality is really conflicting, and absurd, and the apartheid was so clear in Hebron.”

Hannigan said that “we still believe that we can bring this critical conversation or make awareness of the situation here with our message and with our agenda-setting powers and hopefully we will make awareness to the world through Eurovision.”




Earlier in the interview, Haraldsson said the group was “very conflicted about being here, in this contest. But I feel as participants we have the power to address the absurdity really of having a contest like this, which is a beautiful thing – and it’s founded in the spirit of unity and peace – but hosting it in a country that’s scarred by conflict and disunity.”

Also on Sunday, the group held a press conference after their first rehearsal at the Expo Tel Aviv. There Hatari, the self-described anti-capitalist pro-BDSM protest singing group – the undeniable trolls of the competition – were in top form.

Asked by a reporter about their challenge to trouser wrestle Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the group said they were still up for a duel, noting that it is “a very honorable sport, and it is not a violent challenge.”

They also denied rumors that they would use their Eurovision performance to make a political statement or wave a Palestinian flag. Any explicit political statements on stage are forbidden by the European Broadcasting Union.

“What we said was we would use our agenda-setting influence that comes through participation... we will try to uphold a critical discussion about the context in which this contest is being held,” said Haraldsson. “And that is what we’ve tried to do in our conversations with various media and we’ll continue doing. In regards to what happens on the stage itself, we are determined to take part in the contest and comply with the rules just like anyone else.”

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