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The band representing Iceland in the competition took the Palestinian cause to a live audience.
The Icelandic band Hatari created a stir at Eurovision 2019 when they displayed banners in support of Palestine when cameras panned to them during an announcement of Iceland’s points, highlighting the controversial nature of this year’s competition hosted in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The Icelandic techno, industrial, and punk rock bank from Reykjavik held up banners with the colors of the Palestinian flag and which read “Palestine” in bright red lettering, as way to protest Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and express dismay that Israel was allowed to host despite its history of human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.
The banners were quickly confiscated by security in an interaction that band members recorded and posted to Instagram.
Hosts of the program Bar Refaeli and Erez Tal reacted awkwardly to the guerilla activism, and the audience stirred in what can be described as a mix of surprise, delight, and anger.
Adding emphasis to their statement, the band then posted the Palestinian flag to their Instagram account.
Eurovision, the popular show of musical talent from all over the world, has faced boycotts and social outcry over this year’s venue of Tel Aviv triggered by a win of the Israeli musician Netta’s win in Lisbon last year.
Critics of Israel's hosting of the event accused the country of trying to whitewash its crimes using popular entertainment to draw attention away from the subject of their occupation.
In January, 60 LGBT groups also signed a statement accusing Israel of distracting “attention from its war crimes against Palestinians” and “forwarding its pinkwashing agenda, the cynical use of gay rights to distract from and normalize Israel’s occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.”
The Icelandic band, which is described on Eurovision’s site as the “Award-winning, anti-capitalist, BDSM, techno-dystopian, performance art collective,” also showed support for the LGBT community when in another camera shot, they were shown holding the LGBT rainbow flag, as well as the blue, white, and pink trans flag.
Iceland finished 10th out of 25, with the Netherlands winning the final tally. The U.K. finished dead last and Israel