Madonna’s dancers wear Israeli and Palestinian flags in 2019
The Eurovision Song Contest will hit the small screen this Saturday after a hiatus due to Covid restrictions. The international competition is supposed to be apolitical and a demonstration of each nation’s musical abilities, but the complex relations between different countries are often accused of influencing the voting system. Israel’s contestant Eden Alene was announced as one of the finalists for Eurovision this week — and all eyes will undoubtedly be on the performer as the Israeli conflict with Palestine continues to unfurl in the Middle East.
Pro-Palestinian activists also campaigned outside the semi-finals just before Ms Alene’s performance, according to reports.
The songstress has touched on the topic on social media, writing on Instagram this week: “My heart is with you every minute, hurting, loving, strengthening and following with worry everything that is happening in Israel.”
However, the violent conflict over land ownership and eviction has been brewing for years before it came to a head earlier this month.
Just two years ago, international pop star Madonna decided to incorporate a last minute nod to the long-standing feud between Israel and Palestine into her performance — which infuriated Eurovision.
A spokesperson for the EBU — European Broadcasting Union — said: “In the live broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest grand final, two of Madonna’s dancers briefly displayed the Israeli and Palestinian flags on the back of their outfits.
Eurovision’s fury at Madonna after singer made statement with Israeli and Palestinian flags
Two of Madonna’s dancers had the Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs
“This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared with the EBU and the host broadcaster, KAN [Israel’s state broadcaster].
“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”
Madonna was performing while audiences were waiting for the result of the final, which was held in the Israeli city Tel Aviv.
She performed her 1989 hit ‘Like a Prayer’ before moving onto her new song ‘Future’ featuring Migos rapper Quavo.
Madonna performed in 2019 for Eurovision with rapper Quavo
Towards the close of their set, dancers walked up past the two performers in pairs, with their arms around one another.
As Madonna and Quavo sang the lyrics, ‘Not everyone is coming to the future/Not everyone is learning from the past’, front and centre of the stage were two dancers with a flag on each of their backs — the Israeli flag and its Palestinian counterpart.
The words ‘WAKE UP’ were then beamed onto the back of the stage, while Madonna and Quavo fell backwards off their raised platform to mark the end of their set.
Madonna also released a pre-recorded message before her performance, warning the audience to not “underestimate the power of music to bring people together”.
She continued: “Look at all the delegates behind us, everyone here is from all over the world.
“So many countries that I have been privileged not just to visit but to experience.
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Pro-Palestinian activists campaigned for Madonna to boycott Eurovision 2019
“And the one thing that brings me to those countries and the thing that brings all these people here tonight is music.”
Madonna had already defied calls from pro-Palestinian activists calling on performers to boycott Tel Aviv’s contest.
In response to the pleas from protesters before the event, she said: “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.”
Then, in an Instagram post acknowledging her Eurovision performance, she added a caption claiming her new alias of ‘Madame X’ is “a freedom fighter”.
She noted: “I am grateful for the opportunity to spread the message of peace and unity with the world.”
The controversial performer has also called herself an “Israelite” in the past and said she observes Judaism’s day of rest, the Shabbat, but does not consider herself Jewish.
Madonna triggered controversy when she was mounted on a cross for her 2006 tour
Madonna has spoken out about politics through her performances throughout her extensive career
She also told Irish outlet The Independent: “No, I don’t affiliate myself with any specific religious group.
“I connect to different ritualistic aspects of different belief systems and I see the connecting thread between all religious beliefs.”
She was also asked about the cross she was wearing at the time, and she answered: “I like crosses. I’m sentimental about Jesus on the cross.”
Madonna has drifted into political spheres several times throughout her extensive music career, including mounting herself on a cross during a 2006 tour and kissing a saint in front of burning crosses for her 1989 Like a Prayer video.