Iceland’s representative for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Hatari, may be banned from entering Israel, if the Israeli “lawfare” organisation Shurat HaDin get their way.

In a statement, Shurat HaDin’s founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said:“We received information that the band representing Iceland supports a boycott of Israel. Last summer, the band signed a petition distributed in Iceland calling for the boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest. After being selected, Hatari announced that it intended to protest against Israel on stage at the Eurovision Song Contest, despite the fact that it would violate the rules of competition.

“According to the amendment to the Entry into Israel Law, a person who is not an Israeli citizen or in possession of a permanent residence permit in Israel will not be granted a visa or residency permit, if he or the organisation or body he is working for has knowingly issued a public call to boycott Israel, as defined in the Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott. The Icelandic band publicly and explicitly called for and supported a boycott of Israel. They must be prohibited from entering the country.”

Last year, Shurat HaDin, who have links to Mossad, launched a lawsuit against two activists in New Zealand who had written an open letter to Lorde, before the pop star cancelled her December 2017 Tel Aviv show. An Israeli court eventually ordered Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab to pay damages of NZ$18,000. Sachs and Abu-Shanab responded by raising more than NZ$40,000 for Palestinian mental health charities in Gaza.

Eurovision organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), have previously insisted that the Israeli government commit to allowing entry to anyone who wants to attend Eurovision, regardless of their political views. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to the EBU’s conditions, despite opposition from Israel’s minister for strategic affairs, Gilad Erdan, who described the demands as “a disgrace” and “a humiliation”.

There have been widespread calls for the boycott of Eurovision hosted by Israel, from Palestinian cultural organisations, scores of international artists, former Eurovision contestants including one winner and almost one hundred LGBTQ+ groups.

Brian Eno recently wrote about the calls to boycott the contest in The Guardian, arguing that “Israel is a state that sees culture as a political instrument”. Eno urged the UK representative Michael Rice to “help to ensure that Eurovision 2019 will be remembered as an occasion of principled protest, not another episode of cultural whitewashing”.

Nearly 40,000 people have signed a petition calling on artists “to boycott the 2019 contest hosted by Israel just as they once boycotted the apartheid regime in South Africa”. Last month, activist group London Palestine Action released a parody cover version of Bucks Fizz’s 1981 Eurovision-winning song Making Your Mind Up, entitled Cultural Boycott.

The cultural boycott of Israel was called for by Palestinian civil society and is part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has three aims: the end of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

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