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Eurovision 2019: Madonna WILL perform in Israel, despite calls to boycott the contest

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Kayleigh Dray
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As a young artist, Madonna was also subject to criticism for expressing her sexuality

“People have always been trying to silence me for one reason or another,” says Madonna.

Madonna will absolutely be performing at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel, despite calls from Palestinian and human rights activists for artists and viewers to boycott the competition.

Last September, more than 100 artists co-signed an open letter asking the Contest to move the competition from Israel, citing an incident in May where the Israeli army killed 62 Palestinian protesters and injured hundreds more in Gaza.

Rumours around Madonna’s involvement in the competition, though, continued to swirl. And, earlier this week, the Like A Prayer singer posted a cryptic video on social media that appeared to be filmed on the stage of the Expo Tel Aviv.

“Madonna can’t make up her mind,” the video was tagged, alongside the hashtag ‘future’.

Now, ignoring all those who have accused her of “artwashing”, Madonna has confirmed that she will be performing at Eurovision.

Speaking on the singer’s behalf, Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, said: “We are pleased to finally confirm that the incomparable music icon Madonna will join us at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

“Performing live during the biggest entertainment show in the world will be a special moment for everyone – not least the fans.

“The talent on display in the competition this year is phenomenal and I’m sure the artists will further be inspired by her incredible performance and staging.

“We know that it will be an evening to remember and can’t wait to share it with everyone watching.”

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Madonna had previously defended her right to perform to Israeli fans, albeit without confirming whether or not the Eurovision rumours were true.

“I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be,” she told Reuters.

“My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict.”

“I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”

Claiming her fame is often criticised, she also told Vogue magazine: “People have always been trying to silence me for one reason or another, whether it’s that I’m not pretty enough, I don’t sing well enough, I’m not talented enough, I’m not married enough. And now it’s that I’m not young enough.”

Madonna is not the first to come under fire for performing in Israel: last August, Lana del Rey faced criticism after it was announced she was playing Israel’s inaugural Meteor Festival, with groups such as the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) comparing it to “playing a show in South Africa during Apartheid”. 

“We will still be playing our show in Israel. That being said, I understand the concern towards showing support to the Palestinians too. So I just wanted to let you know when I’m in Israel I will be visiting Palestine too and I look forward to meeting both Palestinian and Israeli children and playing music for everyone. I want peace for both Israel and Palestine,” she responded at the time.

Similarly, in December 2017, Lorde received an open letter from fans, which stated that her planned Tel Aviv performance would equate to support for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem (both of which are lands that Palestine claims).

“In this context,” they wrote, “a performance in Israel sends the wrong message. Playing in Tel Aviv will be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation.”

Lorde replied: “Noted! Been speaking w[ith] many people about this and considering all options. Thank [yo]u for educating me, I am learning all the time too.”

The musician subsequently cancelled the concert, calling her initial decision to perform in Israel a mistake. The concert promoters reimbursed fans who had purchased tickets.

This year marks 30 years since the release of Madonna’s album, Like A Prayer. As such, she will be performing the title track at Eurovision, while accompanied by a 35-strong choir.

She will also be performing her brand new single, Future, from her new album Madame X

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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