During the final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest last weekend in Tel Aviv, Icelandic performers Hatari waved a banner with a Palestinian flag for a couple of seconds into the cameras. The action, which secured the group international media attention, has little to do with showing solidarity with Palestinians. To the contrary, Hatari’s gesture is harmful, if not abusive, to Palestinian resistance efforts.
Hatari’s stunt came after the group’s publicly announced crossing of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) picket line. While the performers witnessed the struggle of Palestinians in occupied Hebron, which they correctly referred to as “apartheid,” they nevertheless chose to ignore the Palestinian call for boycott and performed at Eurovision in Tel Aviv. Eurovision is a major event, which has been exhaustively abused by Israel for propaganda aimed at promoting Israeli Hasbara and whitewashing Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians, oftentimes by pretending Palestinians do not exist.
Hatari performed at Eurovision knowing this and, thereby, contributed to Israel’s act of artwashing. In this context, Hatari’s waving of the Palestinian banner can be seen as an appropriation of the Palestinian struggle. While ignoring the Palestinian call for boycott, the band abused a Palestinian national symbol to gain attention, and, to possibly make themselves feel better about crossing the BDS picket line.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel clearly rejected Hatari’s action and “fig-leaf gestures of solidarity” in general.
Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line #Hatari #BoycottEurovision2019 #ESC2019 #Eurovision2019 #esf19 #EurovisionSongContest #DareToDreamTogether #DareToDream #Eurovision pic.twitter.com/IP5MaTfQrQ
— PACBI (@PACBI) May 18, 2019
Like everyone else, Palestinians have the right, individually and collectively, to choose their form of resistance against oppression. And they have done precisely that. Palestinians have called for the non-violent boycott of Israel until it implements human rights, respects international law, and abolishes apartheid, which is a crime against humanity. As Palestinians continue to engage in a fight for their very survival, publicly proclaimed solidarity should be principled and not flexibly adaptable. When non-Palestinians utter the word “apartheid” and claim to support Palestinian resistance, while simultaneously crossing the BDS picket line for their own personal benefit, they are not only failing morally. They are actively patronizing, policing, and disrespecting the Palestinian right to resist.
From their wealthy comfort zone, the privileged Icelandic performers used the Palestinian flag to effectively tell millions of viewers that it is okay to ignore Palestinian calls for solidarity and action.