It’s confirmed – Madonna, rumoured over the past several months to be performing at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, will perform two songs at the contest’s final. Ongoing controversy over the hosting of Eurovision in Israel, however, means her involvement in the celebrations is not welcomed by all.
According to reports originating from local promoters Live Nation Israel, the pop superstar is set to perform one established hit along with one new song. She has reportedly clashed with organisers over the political content of the new song she wanted to perform, but the messages contained in the song – and whether or not it’s the same one she now plans to perform – remain unknown.
This will be her fourth time performing in Israel. She is expected to spend several days in the country ahead of the Eurovision final and will bring with her an entourage of 160 people.
She will be paid $1 million for her performance, with the fee reportedly to be covered by Canadian-Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams.
Businessman Danny Ben Naim, an associate of Adams, told YNet in February “Adams believes that the participation of an artist like Madonna in this year’s show will significantly increase the exposure and media coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest itself and the corresponding events… as well as of the wonderful people and beauty of the State of Israel.”
This exposure for the State of Israel, however, is a source of controversy. Over 60 LGBT+ organisations from around the world have signed a petition calling for a boycott of this year’s contest, finding it unacceptable to host Eurovision in Israel given the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In January, over 50 UK cultural figures – including musician Peter Gabriel and director Ken Loach – signed an open letter to the Guardian in which they wrote that they could not ignore “Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.”
For those who support the boycott, to allow Israel to project a positive image of its people and politics worldwide through the lens of Eurovision is to make the contest complicit in a “pinkwashing of apartheid.”
British-Palestinian journalist Jad Salfiti wrote on Twitter today “‘Material girl’ #Madonna playing #Eurovision in Israel only cements her status at the most conflicting and confusing popstar we’ve seen. On one hand upholding LGBTQ+ rights and race issues, on the other hand, glossing them over with regards to queer Palestinians.”
"Material girl" #Madonna playing #Eurovision in Israel only cements her status at the most conflicting and confusing popstar we've seen. On one hand upholding LGBTQ+ rights and race issues, on the other hand, glossing them over with regards to queer Palestinians.
— Jad Salfiti جاد (@JadSalfiti) April 9, 2019
Some fans are excited to see such a celebrated LGBT+ ally perform at Eurovision, despite the controversy. Kevin McBride, who is part of the information services team for charity Stonewall UK, tweeted “It’s official. #Madonna to perform at this years (sic) #Eurovision in #Israel and I don’t have a ticket! Who do I need to sleep with?” #madonnaeurovision.”
— Kevin McBride (@KevinCMcBride) April 9, 2019
With fans eagerly awaiting updates on her new album, Madonna will doubtlessly remain a focus in the lead-up to Eurovision.
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