Leather-clad group Hatari say this years competition, in which they will represent Iceland, is built on a lie

Nothing titillates the Icelandic bondage and dominance-themed band Hatari more than a glaring contradiction.

On stage, the group, whose name means “Hater”, present a fascist-inspired dystopia of blood-splattered whippings. In person, they are softly spoken and occasionally cheerfully optimistic.

They have slammed Eurovision in Israel- which is the subject of boycott calls over the country's treatment of Palestinians- as being” built on a lie”, calling it propaganda and a whitewash, yet they have agreed to represent their country in Tel Aviv this week, conveying genuine love for the competition's message of unity and diversity.

While the group's founding purpose was to overthrow capitalism, they own a for-profit company selling T-shirts and merchandise and brashly advertise their own carbonated water at any possibility, promising it is” the purest water left on Earth “.

” Of course, dismantling capitalism is an expensive affair ,” says one half of the band's main duo, Matthias Tryggvi Haraldsson, in monotone sarcasm.

The world's longest-running broadcasted song competition boastings a proud history of pop ballads light on meaning and heavy on fun and glitz, building it a wonder that a black leather, highly sexualised group who revel in pain have built it to Eurovision with a song entitled Hate Will Prevail.

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” Some of our fans in Iceland are gimps at heart ,” explains the other frontman, Klemens Hannigan, his golden hoop earrings dangling, framed by a blonde mullet.

The pair of cousins, both 25, dreamed up the performance art group during a stroll in the nighttime sun in Reykjavik several years ago, contemplating the rise of populism in Europe. Hate Will Prevail takes it forward, imagining a dark future. The militaristic, authoritarian style of BDSM- bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism- seemed apt and they have been welcomed, they say, with open arms by the Icelandic fetish community.

” They told us of the significance of consent and trust, before proceeding further to flog us ,” says Tryggvi Haraldsson. The chairman of the national BDSM society became an ally and even made a cameo appearance in a music video.

The third member of the band, Einar Hrafn Stefansson, is a drummer who appears in demonstrates in a mask. He was spotted recently on a beach in Tel Aviv in platform boots and metal chains.” He was let on for a couple of hours; otherwise he is locked in his[ hotel] room ,” says Hannigan.

Hatari have emerged as the most controversial act this year, putting politics front of stage in a contest that has been at aches stay apolitical, to the point of adding censorship of lyrics and speeches into its rules.

With their deadpan humour, Hatari challenged the country's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, to a traditional Icelandic trouser-grip wrestling match the day after the Eurovision finale, to be adjudicated by a” neutral UN-sponsored referee “.

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Hatari came out on top in Songvakeppnin, Iceland's domestic Eurovision tournament. Photograph: Mummi Lu

If they win on 18 May, they advise they will have earned the right to take control of land within Israel to set up the first liberal BSDM enclave. The parallels with Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory are clear, even if Hatari do not point that out explicitly.

Their pronouncements have riled Israel's advocates and no doubt caused anxiety among Eurovision organisers. There was public pressure on the interior ministry to block their entry to the country, and they say pre-competition events in Tel Aviv have been awkward.

“There is tension,” says Tryggvi Haraldsson, adding that they have received hate mail.” There is an elephant in the room .”

Eurovision, created in 1956 in the aftermath of the second world war, has always been deeply, if not overtly, political. Countries with close linguistic, ethnic or diplomatic ties often vote for one another. Armenia's 2015 song was originally entitled Don't Deny, interpreted as a reference to Turkey's denial of the genocide. This year, Ukraine pulled out of the contest because its singer accused the national broadcaster of pushing her to abide by a ban on concerts in Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014.

Israel has sought to use Eurovision for political gain, originally planning to host it in Jerusalem in a campaign for international recognition of the holy city as its capital. The organisers opt Tel Aviv instead.

” Eurovision is, of course, a beautiful thing in that it is based on ideas of peace and unity and this year it's held in a country that's marred by conflict and disunity ,” says Tryggvi Haraldsson.

” Letting the narrative of the fluffy, peace-loving pop contest go on unchallenged in this context in our view is extremely political. Everyone who takes part in this is taking part in a political statement whether they are aware of it or not .”

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Hatari's Klemens Hannigan( right) and Matthias Tryggvi Haraldsson( second from right) at the Songvakeppnin finals in March. Photograph: Facebook

To push back, Hatari's first point of call after landing was to drive to the largest city in the occupied West Bank. More than 200,000 Palestinians live in Hebron, but the presence of ultranationalist Israeli settlers around the main souk has in effect shut down local life in the international centre as army checkpoints cut off the area.

” It's so absurd to be in this tournament … and everyone is super polite; it's all about the music everyone is loves each other ,” says Tryggvi Haraldsson at his hotel in Tel Aviv.” And to be in that bubble a day after witnessing apartheid in action only an hour's drive away is the contradiction that we want to be aware of .”

Yet Hatari have found themselves under pressure from Palestinians, too, in particular the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions( BDS) campaign, which wants not only businesses to pull support for the competition, but artists to pull out of it too, even ones who criticise Israel's policies.

One of the movement's founders said it appreciated gestures of solidarity but Hatari was ” fig-leafing “ by playing in Eurovision.

Tryggvi Haraldsson says he subsistences any non-violent movement that campaigns for Palestinian rights, including BDS,” even though, patently and paradoxically, our approach is quite different “. Otherwise, he says,” an opportunity for a critical discussion is wasted”, as Iceland was always going to send a group.

The big question is whether Hatari will use the Eurovision stage to protest in front of millions of spectators worldwide in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

In rehearsals the band performed with backing dancers in front of a giant prop of grinding gears, which some thought resembled a grenade. It is the logo for Relentless Scam Inc, the holding company that sells their bottled water, SodaDream. It is not to be confused with Israeli product SodaStream, they warn with the slightest clue of a grin, which used to operate a factory in a settlement.

” We are using a platform to uphold a certain agenda ,” says Tryggvi Haraldsson.” It doesn't have to be a physical platform .”

When the contest hibernates for another year, Hatari are determined not to be a one-Eurovision wonder and plan to release an album in September.

But do they have other aspirations? Tryggvi Haraldsson answers in monotone:” Playing shows in countries where there currently is not an illegal occupation taking place .”

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