They challenged Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a trouser wrestling match before they were even selected for Eurovision. Yet despite calls for them to be blocked from entering the country, Iceland’s Hatari have arrived in Tel Aviv and completed their first rehearsal.
Following their run through, the “Hatrið mun sigra” performers caught up with our William. The discussion covered the typical Eurovision chit chat — staging, symbolism, fire.
But given their previous outspokenness and the latest flare-up in tensions, William had to ask the performance group’s frontmen — Matthíás and Klemens — for their thoughts.
Alluding to the escalation in violence between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, which has resulted in 20 deaths at the time of writing, William asks if this has changed their perception of their trip to Eurovision.
Matthías answers: “Of course, we’re 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 that is founded in the spirit of unity and peace, but hosting it in a country that’s scarred by conflict and disunity”.
“It’s of course really political and contradictory. And there’s bound to be tension in all the participants”.
Klemens reveals that some members of the group visited Hebron, a Palestinian city south of Jerusalem, on Saturday. “We had Palestinian guides take us around the H2 area, which is in the middle of the old town where there are three Israeli settlements and a military base. And there are these streets that we walked along which are called ‘ghost streets’ or ‘ghost town’ and all the Palestinian businesses have been closed down and the segregation is so clear because Palestinians are not allowed to enter these ghost streets”.
Matthías adds: “So of course, the occupation has many faces. A clear one is definitely the one you mentioned in the south now around Gaza. But you can also see it so obviously on the West Bank and many other places here in this country. The political reality is really conflicting and absurd. And the apartheid was so clear in Hebron”.
However, Klemens hopes that the group can shine a spotlight on the matter through their Eurovision appearance: “We still believe that we can bring this critical conversation or make awareness of the situation here with our message and our gender setting powers. And hopefully, we will make awareness to the world through Eurovision”.
Hatari (Iceland) Interview at Eurovision 2019
And what of their performance? Is their prop a grenade?
“It can also be interpreted as a globe. It’s from our logo, or the logo of our holding company – Relentless Scam Incorporated. It portrays something that constrains you, obviously, like a cage. Something dangerous like a grenade. But it’s also because the state that we address in our song is a global one, so there’s a globe on the stage”.
And on a lighter note, what is the most bizarre question they’ve been asked on the Eurovision promotional tour? — “Do you like donuts”?
Both men confirm that they do indeed like the deep-fried doughy treats. Although Klemens misheard the interviewer and thought she was asking about Donald.
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