TEL AVIV – Pop superstar Madonna declared that calls to boycott Israel would not stop her from coming to the country to perform during Saturday’s grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.
“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,” Madonna said in a statement to Reuters.
Pro-Palestinian BDS supporters have called on artists to boycott the contest, saying it is “whitewashing” Israel’s crimes.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Artists Association last week accusing Israel of using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime.”
The association pointed to the killing of over 60 Palestinians during the violent border riots last year on the same day Israel won the Eurovision song contest. However, 50 of the dead were later claimed by Hamas to be members of the terror group.
“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,” Madonna said. “I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”
Last month, Pink Floyd vocalist and BDS overlord Roger Waters appealed to Madonna to rethink her decision to perform at Israel’s Eurovision, saying it “normalizes the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters.”
Madonna is expected to arrive Wednesday morning with an entourage of some 135 people including rapper KoVu, a choir of 40 singers and 25 dancers.
Her two-song performance comes at a $1.3 million cost and will largely be covered by Canadian-Israeli philanthropist Sylvan Adams.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry on Sunday launched a public relations campaign aiming to counter BDS efforts by buying up Google ads ostensibly supporting a boycott but that actually link to a pro-Israel website.
Google adwords including “boycott” and “Eurovision” lead users to a website, boycotteurovision.net, which praises Israel as “Beautiful, Diverse, Sensational,” in a wordplay standing in for “boycott, divestment and sanctions.”
The Palestinian-led BDS movement described it as it “crude propaganda straight out of apartheid South Africa’s playbook.”
“After its theft of Palestinian land and culture, Israel is now trying to appropriate a symbol of our nonviolent resistance,” Alia Malak of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which oversees the BDS movement’s academic and cultural campaigns, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Last week, the ministry released a report saying that BDS activists had used bots and 232 fake Twitter accounts calling for the boycott of Eurovision.
Madonna has performed in Israel three times: in 1993, 2009, and 2012, and has made frequent private visits to the country, drawn by her attraction to Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.
Her Ray of Light foundation supports a number of Palestinian projects, Reuters said.