Madonna faces backlash over Israel Eurovision gig

Madonna holding guitar, singing behind a microphone against black background.

Madonna’s planned performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel faces a backlash. (Chrisweger / Flickr

Madonna is facing a backlash for being scheduled to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel in May.

There was speculation for sometime, but the European Broadcasting Union, the international body that produces Eurovision, confirmed Madonna’s planned performance on Monday.

In a petition cosigned by PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and Jewish Voice for Peace, campaigners demand the superstar cancel her performance in Tel Aviv.

“There’s no neutrality in situations of injustice. Please stand with us on the right side of history to create a better world for all and cancel your performance at Eurovision,” the petition states.

Madonna would lend her “star-power to the far-right Israeli government that is using Eurovision to cover up their continued human rights abuses,” it adds.

“Israel’s fanatic, far-right government is cynically exploiting your performance, and those of the contestants, to mask its deepening oppression of Palestinians,” PACBI stated on Twitter.

Using the hashtag #MadonnaDontGo, activists are urging the superstar to pull out of Eurovision.

“Ambassador-at-large”

Madonna’s performance of two songs is set to cost $1 million.

One of the songs will be a debut, which was initially opposed by Eurovision officials due to its “political” content, according to Israel’s Ynet.

Canadian-Israeli real estate tycoon and “self-appointed ambassador-at-large for Israel” Sylvan Adams is paying 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.”

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.

Several Israeli embassies tweeted in support of Madonna’s decision to perform at Eurovision, also exposing the politics behind the song contest.

Speed Sisters

Five years ago, Madonna expressed her support for a Palestinian women’s rally-car racing team called Speed Sisters.

“The Speed Sisters are fighting for freedom in Palestine!” Madonna said in a tweet.

Now the racing team is calling on Madonna to cancel her Eurovision performance.

“We urge you to respect the nonviolent picket line set by Palestinian civil society and cancel this concert,” the team stated on Facebook.

“As Palestinian women living under Israel’s decades-old military occupation and struggling for freedom, justice and equal rights, as you once recognized.”

Past stances

Madonna previously performed in Israel in 2012, ignoring calls for a cultural boycott, and before that in 2009 and 1993, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

During Israel’s devastating 51-day assault on the occupied Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, Madonna called for a “ceasefire,” adding that no one “has a right to destroy” the “innocent children of Gaza.”

More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed during that assault – about one in every 1,000 Gaza residents. Israel slaughtered an average of 11 children per day.

Israeli fatalities included more than 60 soldiers and six civilians.

When Israeli President Shimon Peres died in 2016, Madonna paid tribute to him on Instagram as a “symbol of peace,” despite decades of crimes he committed against Palestinian and Lebanese people.

“I love Palestinians. And I want peace and no wall,” Madonna added in the same post.

Dozens of international artists and LGBTQ groups are calling for a boycott of Eurovision.

Israel sees the hosting of Eurovision as a major international propaganda opportunity, treating it as a “national project” with full government support and more than $30 million of state financing.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is providing another $400,000 to pay for security for the event.

Haaretz reported that the Israeli government is teaching locals “how to be polite” ahead of the song contest.

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Comments

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"Haaretz reported that the Israeli government is teaching locals 'how to be polite' ahead of the song contest."
Here are the main points to remember:
Don't punch, kick, or spit on your guests.
Don't drag them off in the middle of the night for interrogation.
Don't establish civil patrols to prevent them from dating members of the wrong ethnicity.
Don't shoot them if they get too near the fence.
Don't wall them off to starve in ghettos you then decide to bomb and invade periodically.
Don't prevent families from living together.
Don't steal. Don't be racist. Don't lie constantly.
In other words, don't treat Eurovision tourists the way you treat Palestinians.

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Madonna is a well known radical zionist that has unconditionally supported the existence of Israel/ethnic cleansing in Palestine for years. Asking her not to sing in Tel Aviv is like asking the Israeli army snipers not to shoot non-Jewish Palestinian children. This is useless, the question is to promote a worldwide boycott of Madonna

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.