Iceland’s Eurovision entry could be “punished” by organisers for an unauthorised display of the Palestinian flag during the grand final, the event’s Israeli broadcaster said.
During the vote counting of Sunday’s finale, members of the eclectic Icelandic punk ensemble Hatari held up scarf-sized Palestinian flags.
Vocalist Klemens Nikulasson Hannigan flashed a V-for-victory sign, prompting boos from many in the Tel Aviv audience.
In earlier remarks to Eurovision fan site wiwibloggs, Hannigan had criticised Israel’s settlements and what he described as its “apartheid” in occupied Palestinian territory.
The flag display, briefly caught on the live TV relay of the 41-country contest, marked the only disruption of a show that had been a focus of anti-Israel boycott calls, and drew a swift rebuke from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
“The Icelanders will apparently be punished by the European Broadcasting Union, which is really not tolerant of those who violate its rules,” Eldad Koblenz, chief executive of the EBU’s Israeli counterpart Kan, told Ynet TV.
An EBU spokesman declined to directly comment, saying the matter was under discussion.
EBU rules allow for disqualifying contestants who do not abide by requirements for a “non-political event”.
Asked what other penalties might be available, the spokesman said “in the past there have been financial sanctions for rule breaches”, but did not elaborate on these cases or sums.
Hatari’s song Hate Will Prevail, during which the leather- and latex-clad performers thrashed around a grenade-shaped globe as flames shot from the stage, finished 10th of the 26 finalists.
Their flag display did not impress the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which had urged countries to shun the Tel Aviv Eurovision.
“Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line #Hatari,” the campaigners said on Twitter.
Mr Koblenz was more upbeat about a political display by Madonna, whose much-anticipated, two-song guest performance in the final featured two back-up dancers, with Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs, walking in an embrace.
“We are very happy that she came, certainly in a reality where very few artists are prepared to come to Israel,” he said, while allowing that “perhaps she’s had more successful shows”.
Madonna, whose Eurovision performance was widely panned as a “car crash”, said on Twitter she was grateful “for the opportunity to spread the message of peace and unity with the world”.
Kan had no advance notice of Hatari’s or Madonna’s flag displays, Mr Koblenz said, noting “that’s the price of a live broadcast”.