Madonna performed at Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel tonight. Her decision to appear at the song contest incited controversy earlier this week since Palestinians and the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement have called on viewers to boycott the televised event.
“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 issued to 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.”
In response, the Palestinian Campaign For The Academic And Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) stated: “At a time when fewer and fewer major artists are performing in apartheid Tel Aviv, Eurovision is exactly what Israel’s far-right government needs to distract from its crimes. Artwashing Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians for a million dollars must be among the most immoral political agendas.”
Madonna spoke to the audience ahead of her performance and alluded to the controversy surrounding her appearance. “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together,” she said. She opened the set with “Like A Prayer,” and later brought out Quavo to do her new song “Future” in front of a projection that read “WAKE UP.” Two backing dancers also briefly appeared wearing the Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs.
“This element of the performance was not cleared with the EBU and the Host Broadcaster, KAN,” The European Broadcasting Union said in a statement afterwards. “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”
Madonna’s new album, Madame X, will be out 6/14. Watch the performance and interviews with both Madonna and Quavo below.
— Eurovision (@Eurovision) May 18, 2019
— Swype Kulture ™ (@SwypeKulture) May 18, 2019