Pop icon Madonna has announced that she will not cancel her Eurovision Song Contest appearance, despite calls for a boycott of Israel.
The “Material Girl,” 60, reportedly is scheduled to perform at the Eurovision finals on Saturday night, May 18, in Tel Aviv.
Israel won the right to host the Eurovision after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the contest in 2018. Pro-Palestinian activists have since called for performers and fans to boycott the music competition, and have reached out directly to Madonna.
Last fall, about 140 artists called for a boycott of this year’s song contest. In April, Roger Waters, formerly of the band Pink Floyd, called on Madonna not to perform at this Eurovision.
“[It] normalizes the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters,” he wrote.
But Madonna has steadfastly rebuffed the boycott pleas.
“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.
“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,” she said in the statement.
Madonna’s Ray of Light foundation, which promotes social justice and women’s empowerment worldwide, supports a number of Palestinian projects, according to Reuters.
She is expected to arrive in Israel on May 15 with an entourage of some 135. Her stage set and some of her equipment reportedly arrived on May 13.
Madonna has performed in Israel three times — 1993, 2009, and 2012.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Eurovision told reporters on Monday that it is not yet clear whether the singer will take the stage on Saturday night since she has not signed a contract with the European Broadcasting Contest. Jon Ola Sand said the union is still negotiating the terms of the contract with her and that “if we do not have a signed contract, she cannot perform on our stage.”
Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams is paying the cost of her performance, estimated at about $1.3 million.