LOS ANGELES/TEL AVIV—‘’I will 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,’’ said pop icon Madonna as she s set to arrive in Israel to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
She said in a statement to Reuters that she will not cancel her Eurovision appearance despite calls for a boycott and that she will always call out human rights violations around the world.
Pro-Palestinian activists have called for performers and fans to boycott the competition, and have reached out directly to Madonna.
‘’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’’, Madonna said.
She is to arrive in Israel on Wednesday with an entourage of some 135. Her stage set and some of her equipment reportedly arrived on Monday.
Madonna has performed in Israel three times, the latest one in 2012.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Eurovision told reporters on Monday that it is not yet clear whether the 60-year-old 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 businessman Sylvan Adams is paying the cost of her performance, estimated at about $1.3 million.
Madonna, who has studied Kabbalah with the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles, took on the Hebrew name “Esther” in 2004 although she has not formally converted to Judaism.
The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently revealed a synchronized campaign of fake bot accounts, under the hashtag #BoycottEurovision2019, against the popular song contest.
According to the ministry, #BoycottEurovision2019 is the most recent example of fraudulent methods used against artists planning on performing in Israel. Past cases include a fake-user Twitter campaign launched late last year against the singer Lana Del Rey, in which Twitter bots were found to have partaken in pressuring the artist to cancel her planned visit.
The minuistry said the campaign was originally launched under the hashtag #BoycottEurovision2019 by PACBI (The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), an organization operating from Ramallah with close ties with the PNIF (Palestinian National Islamic Forces), an organization which is comprised of five terror groups, including Hamas, the PFLP and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The Eurovision Song Contest will be viewed in 50 countries worldwide by 189 million people.