Harold Ohayon
A Wandering New Yorker
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A tale of two displays

The Iceland delegation and Madonna both interjected pro-Palestinian messages: The difference between them was night and day

After all was said and done, the Eurovision Song Contest went off spectacularly. Flags of nations were waved side by side, and for a few hours countless people left their everyday lives to be transported to an event that represents harmony, unity and diversity. And what a show it was! Though my candidate did not win, the contest was indeed entertaining and joyous.

That is not to say that political displays were not unveiled during the contest. The Icelandic band Hatari, whose members are quite vocal in their animosity towards Israel, held up Palestinian flags during the voting tally. Madonna, likewise, had two of her performers wear Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes. While the contest itself is supposed to be free of political statements, it is important to notice the difference in approach between Hatari and Madonna.

Hatari has made their dislike of Israel well known, and it appears that their bias has turned into an obsession. Before even landing in the country, the members of the band criticized and demonized Israel to anyone who would listen. After arriving in Israel, they took a tour of Hebron and claimed that they were confronted with the reality of ‘apartheid’ during their trip. Firstly, Hatari is far from being unbiased when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Any statements from them pertaining to the ever complex Israel-Palestinian conflict should be taken with a grain of salt. This is abundantly clear in the fact that they chose to use the term ‘apartheid’ in their musings.

I wonder if they actually read up on the history of Hebron before going on their ‘fact finding’ holiday day trip. Did their tour guide tell them about the ancient links between that city and the Jewish people? Did they seek a well rounded and holistic approach to this contentious city? Do they know about the Arab orchestrated massacre against the Jews of Hebron in 1929? Probably not. They went in order to gather evidence to justify their own biases. And when the voting tally was being held, they chose to wave Palestinian banners for all the cameras to see. They did not hold up banners calling for peace. They did not holdings calling for two states. They did not offer anything in terms of peaceful messages. Hardly unbiased messengers of peace and reconciliation.

Madonna, on the other hand, used her platform to issue a very different message. It is no secret that Madonna holds Israel quite close to her heart. But instead of using the event to highlight this, she crafted a message that called for peace and coexistence. Instead of choosing one side over the other, she had a Palestinian flag stand side by side with an Israeli one.  The message was clear: Two states and two peoples exist side by side in equality. It was quite refreshing to see an open call for coexistence. While Hatari and the BDS movement love to wave the Palestinian flag as a method of challenging Israel, Madonna used her spotlight to call for peace. And that makes a world of difference.

These two events that occurred at the Eurovision Song Contest perfectly illustrate the world we live in. Hatari, the BDS movement and all those vehement anti Israel activists in the world pretend to care about peace and justice in the region. They claim they want peace, but they really only care about bashing Israel. If you look at any Palestinian solidarity rally, you will see hateful posters and bombastic slogans that demonize Israel. They never hold up signs of peace and reconciliation. They do not hold up images of doves, no, and instead they hold up banners with raised fists. Madonna’s take, however, is very similar to those in the pro-Israel camp. Every pro-Israel event I have ever attended was heavily saturated with messages of peace and hope. This is in stark contrast to the Palestinian apologist side in that they never actually put forth anything relating to peaceful solutions to this conflict. The Israeli side, on the other hand, constantly seeks solutions and has offered several peace plans that were all rejected by the Palestinian side.

If Hatari and their ilk wish to use their platforms to actually foster an environment conducive towards peace, then by all means they should. But that would require more nuanced approaches, and would require viewing both parties with dignity and respect. Sadly, this is not what they did last night. They should take a page from Madonna’s book if they wish to learn how to successfully use one’s influence to promote peaceful coexistence. And so, it seems, the Eurovision Song Contest was yet another example of art imitating life: One side wishes only to bash and attack while the other offers the hand of peace and dialogue. May the peaceful side win out in the end.

About the Author
Expat New Yorker living in the Land of the Rising Sun: Trekking to random parts of the globe, debating countless things under the sun, and attempting to learn to cook Korean food.
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