Israeli media are reporting that Madonna will perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in May, but the superstar’s appearance is encountering obstacles.
One of the songs Madonna reportedly wants to perform in Tel Aviv was opposed by Eurovision officials, according to Israel’s Ynet.
The content of the song is unclear.
The director of Kan, the Israeli public broadcaster that is producing the event in Tel Aviv, called on Eurovision organizers not to interfere in Madonna’s artistic decisions.
Madonna is reportedly asking for more than $1 million for her performance.
Canadian-Israeli real estate tycoon Sylvan Adams is offering to pay Madonna’s fee.
Adams told The Jerusalem Post he views Eurovision in particular as “a tremendous way to boost tourism” to Israel and to showcase “the freedom and openness and tolerance and safety of our country.”
“We’ve reached out to Madonna to try to add a little bit of glitz to the event,” Adams said.
“It’s looking very good that she’s going to come here and participate in the Eurovision Song Contest.”
Adams describes himself as a “self-appointed ambassador-at-large for Israel.”
He played a big role in bringing the Giro d’Italia cycling race to Jerusalem last year, which took place despite calls from Palestinian civil society to boycott the event.
Again, Adams was not shy about his political motives in promoting what was marketed as a mere sporting event.
“I want to show people how normal Israel is – that it is a modern, western, pluralistic and free nation where everyone gets along,” he told the Jewish Chronicle.
When organizers announced the race would begin in “West Jerusalem,” Adams claims he “convinced them there is no such place and they changed it to Jerusalem” – an acknowledgment that the sporting event was part of Israel’s effort to assert sovereignty over the entire city, in violation of international law.
The race, which was meant to celebrate 70 years of “Israeli independence,” started just days before Palestinians commemorated the Nakba, marking 70 years since Zionist forces expelled some 800,000 Palestinians, emptying or destroying hundreds of cities, towns and villages in the process.
The Israeli government-backed Act.IL app is being deployed in a fake grassroots social media campaign – a tactic known as astroturfing – that directs users to praise and welcome Eurovision participants for their planned performances.
Rock star Roger Waters is urging Portuguese singer Conan Osiris and other finalists representing their countries to withdraw from Eurovision.
Osiris “was reported as saying he wasn’t sure if he would go to Tel Aviv or not,” Waters said in a Facebook post, urging him to “join the vast network of artists who are heeding the Palestinian call to boycott Eurovision in apartheid Tel Aviv.”
“I wrote and suggested to him that here he had an opportunity to speak up for life over death and also for human rights over human wrongs,” Waters said.
Waters urged Osiris to stand “shoulder to shoulder with his oppressed brothers and sisters in Palestine” and “show solidarity with the 189 unarmed protesters shot to death by Israel’s snipers in Gaza last year alone, including at least 35 children.”
So far, it is estimated that 20,000 foreign visitors will attend the song contest in May – far fewer than previously expected, according to Haaretz, which cited high prices and poor organization.
“The breaking point came two weeks ago when 180,000 people, mostly from abroad, who tried to buy tickets were simply unable to make their purchases,” the newspaper stated.
Icelandic band protests
Meanwhile, Israel may ban Iceland’s Eurovision contestant Hatari over the band’s plan to protest Israel’s abuses during the contest, as well as its support for the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights.
Hatari is being targeted by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli group linked to the Mossad spying and assassination agency. The group employs spurious and politically motivated legal proceedings in an effort to harass, silence and deter supporters of Palestinian rights.
Shurat HaDin’s director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said that the group intends to use a law Israel recently passed to muzzle supporters of the BDS movement to seek to have the band members barred from entering Israel.
Israel did not use its app to welcome Hatari to Eurovision:
“The Icelandic band publicly and explicitly called for and supported a boycott of Israel. They must be prohibited from entering the country,” Darshan-Leitner asserted.
Last year, Shurat HaDin sued two New Zealand human rights activists under Israel’s anti-boycott law for writing an article calling on the pop star Lorde not to play in Israel, in solidarity with Palestinians suffering under Israeli military occupation and siege.
Legal experts dismissed the judgment against the New Zealand activists as meritless and unenforceable.