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Madonna Will Perform in Israel at Eurovision Despite Calls for Boycott

Madonna says she will perform at this weekend’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel despite calls for a boycott from human rights and pro-Palestinian activists.

“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. She added: “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.”

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) responded to Madonna’s statement by urging her to reconsider, arguing that “true solidarity means heeding the call of the oppressed.”

“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,” PACBI’s statement continued. “Artwashing Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians for a million dollars must be among the most immoral political agendas.”

Madonna will perform two songs at the Eurovision contest on Saturday, one of which will be from her forthcoming Madame X album. The longstanding music competition, which attracted 189 million worldwide viewers last year, will feature performers from over 40 countries in its 2019 iteration. The country of the previous year’s winner, in this case Israeli contestant Netta Barzilai, typically hosts the next year’s broadcast.

Madonna has performed in Israel in 2009 and in 2012. Her Ray of Light Foundation donates money to Palestinian causes, including subsidizing teachers’ salaries in the Gaza Strip and issuing micro loans to female farmers through the Palestinian Fair Trade Association.