The Israel Law Center, Shurat HaDin, a civil rights NGO asked Israel’s Interior Minister to prevent Iceland’s Hatari band from entering the country over its intention to use the stage as a political platform to criticize Israel’s settlement policy, knowing it would violate the rules of the European music competition.
By Raz Shechnik
An Israeli organization has asked the government to prevent the Icelandic entrant into the Eurovision Song Contest being allowed in the country over alleged claims that the BDSM techno band Hatari intended to use its time on stage to criticize Israel’s settlement policy and express support for the Palestinians.
Israel is hosting the competition this year after its 2018 entrant Netta Barzilai claimed the trophy with her song “Toy.” The live final of the contest is set to take place in Tel Aviv on May 18.
The Shurat HaDin organization, which has spent more than two decades representing terror victims against terrorist organizations and terror-sponsoring countries, is demanding that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri prevent the group from entering the country, arguing that its members will take advantage of the stage to protest against Israel. In Iceland, there have been calls in recent months to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest this year.
Hatari band members also expressed their solidarity with the Palestinians during media interviews, and criticized Iceland for not boycotting competition in Tel Aviv. They hinted that they intended to use the international stage at the Eurovision to protest “Israeli violation of human rights” – and to identify with the Palestinians.
“We received information that the band representing Iceland supports a boycott of Israel,” said Shurat HaDin head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
“Last summer, the band signed a petition distributed in Iceland calling for the boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest,” she said. “After being selected, Hatari announced that it intended to protest against Israel on stage at the Eurovision Song Contest, despite the fact that it would violate the rules of competition.
“According to the amendment to the Entry into Israel Law, a person who is not an Israeli citizen or in possession of a permanent residence permit in Israel will not be granted a visa or residency permit, if he or the organization or body he is working for has knowingly issued a public call to boycott Israel, as defined in the Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott. The Icelandic band publicly and explicitly called for and supported a boycott of Israel. They must be prohibited from entering the country.”
A spokesperson for Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said that the request by Shurat HaDin would be considered upon receipt, in conjunction with other relevant authorities.
“The matter will be examined when the letter arrives,” the spokesperson said. “In line with the amended law, the interior minister will receive a recommendation from the authorized body, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and only then make a decision.”
This is not the first controversy involving the Icelandic band and the Israeli governement. Upon reaching the 2019 semifinals, Hatari, which describes themselves as “an anti-capitalist techno performance art group,” published a petition inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Glima, a Nordic folk wrestling match.
Glima, the national sport of Iceland, is where the wrestlers try to catch their opponent by the pants and knock him down. It is an ancient sport that comes from the Vikings and it emphasizes technique, rather than physical strength.
In a statement released to the media, the band invited Netanyahu to a friendly wrestling match on May 19, the day after the Eurovision Song Contest, at Magen David Square in Tel Aviv, at the entrance to Carmel Market. According to the band, if their delegate triumphs, they will be allowed to establish “the first BDSM colony under the auspices of Hatari on the Mediterranean coast.” If the prime minister wins, he will get a small archipelago in southern Iceland called Vestmannaeyjar.
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