Hosting this year’s Eurovision in Israel was never going to be a decision that all would agree with. However, were Israel prepared for the uproar to come from the very performers themselves? Dancers transformed into demonstrators, singers refused to be silenced into harmonious melodies and the world watched on in both awe and horror.
Iceland’s music act Hatari displayed Palestinian flags, an act of determined defiance whilst their results were being announced.
This came after Queen of Pop, Madonna, also claimed her rule over the event as her back-up dancers, with respective Palestinian and Israeli flags on their backs, embraced each other.
Amid prior pleas to boycott the contest entirely, is showcasing a Palestinian flag enough to take a stance against Israel? Some may argue that Hatari expressing their support after the results were decided on was playing it too safe.
Furthermore, Madonna choosing the back-up dancers to display the Palestinian flag may be regarded as not being political enough. However, not much pleases today’s society- these moves must be praised amidst the dangerous climate plaguing the Israel-Palestine regions today.
Although the ban of the Palestinian flag in the occupied Palestinian regions has been removed, it’s still highly controversial to display it. Hatari and Madonna essentially took advantage of the sad truth that in many instances, foreigners have more rights for freedom of speech than Palestinians do in their own home.
Despite support applauding Iceland as “the real winners”, many voiced their disagreement with these controversial actions as a recent twitter poll found that 48% opposed the protestation whilst only 38% supported this move.
One other adamant objector argued that Iceland “should be banned from Eurovision next year”, a statement that exhibits the icy tensions as a decision regarding Iceland’s penalty still hasn’t been announced.
These protestations align with the idea that Eurovision should aim to create an “apolitical” space.
However, can the arts and activism ever be as separable as this notion forces them to be?
Ultimately, choosing to host the contest in Israel can be argued as being political in itself as questions regarding whether Israel is even a European country arise.
Madonna has been labelled as being a “political activist”, somewhat of a modern day hero. However, have our standards reached rock bottom in labelling the support of human rights as a shocking phenomenon, with some even antagonising it?
The tensions that Eurovision brought poses the question of whether injustice will always be the inevitable result of powerful countries coming together. Is this essentially political gang culture?
Eurovision 2019 was eventful to say the least. The UK coming last and having further points deducted days later, as if our ego wasn’t bruised enough, sums up how Eurovision 2019 was a playground where harsh truths were unapologetically exchanged.