Madonna Defends Eurovision Performance, Says She Won’t Be Silenced By “Political Agenda”

Palestinian activists have responded, calling Eurovision an "artwashing [of] Israel's brutal oppression of Palestinians."

Madonna Eurovision Israel boycott photo

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Madonna has defended her upcoming performance at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel, amid a call 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.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has grown recently in artistic circles — most notably, Lana Del Rey and Lorde cancelled concerts in Israel when fans asked them to.

Many artists continue to play Israel while condemning the ongoing bloodshed in the Israeli/Palestine conflict, including Nick Cave, who last year wrote an open letter calling “the cultural boycott of Israel… cowardly and shameful”.

Madonna’s statement echoes Cave’s sentiment, as she defends her right to perform to Israeli fans while saying her ‘heart breaks’ over the violence.

“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 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.”

Curiously, it’s unclear whether Madonna’s performance is actually going ahead in the first place. As per Pitchfork, Eurovision’s executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand said at a press conference just yesterday that Madonna’s two-song performance isn’t confirmed, as she hasn’t signed a contract yet.

“We are negotiating but if it’s not signed, it won’t happen,” he said. “We have an artist that would love to participate on the stage, but without the contract, it can’t happen.”

The Eurovision Song Contest continues with the second semi-final on May 18, and the finale airing live on SBS at 5am Sunday 19 May. Australian contestant Kate Miller-Heidke is through to the finals. The Contest’s opening ceremony was protested by pro-Palestine activists.

Madonna has recently released a series of singles in the lead up to Madame X, her 14th album, out June 14.

In response to Madonna’s statement, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has responded, calling Eurovision an “artwashing” of “Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians”. Read the full statement below.

Photo via Madonna Facebook