USA – Defying calls from the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to cancel her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel, American pop legend Madonna said she will “never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda.”
The “Queen of Pop” is set to arrive in Israel with an entourage of 65 support staff and is scheduled to perform two songs during the Grand Finale show on May 18 in Tel Aviv. Israel is hosting the Eurovision contest after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won last year.
The pop legend last appeared in Israel to kick off her 2012 world tour. This time, she is expected to debut a song from her 14th studio album, coming out this summer.
Madonna had come under fire from the anti-Semitic boycott movement and leading anti-Israel activist Roger Waters following her announcement that she will perform at the event. Addressing the controversy for the first time, the pop diva told 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.”
Madonna added: “I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”
The singer’s Ray of Light foundation supports several Palestinian projects, including funding teachers’ salaries in Gaza through UNRWA and providing small loans to female Palestinian farmers. Madonna also sponsors the Palestine Fair Trade Association.
Waters claimed in an aggressive, open letter, “To perform in Israel is a lucrative gig but to do so serves to normalise the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters….”
In Wish you Weren’t Here, a documentary about Waters, David Renzer, the CEO of Spirit Music and co-founder of Creative Community for Peace, observed that Waters uses his credibility in the music business to pressure other artists not to perform in Israel. However, several leading artists have defied his calls to boycott Israel, including Australian rockstar Nick Cave, and have accused Waters of bullying and intimidation.