ISRAEL – Pop diva Madonna landed in Israel late Tuesday evening ahead of her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv on May 18. Madonna’s participation in the prestigious song contest has remained in doubt until her arrival amid reports of disagreement over her salary and calls by pro-Palestinian groups to boycott the event.
The 60-year-old arrived in Israel from London on a private jet belonging to Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams, who apparently was the one to foot the bill for the singer’s appearance, with the cost rumored to be around $1.5 million. Shortly after landing, the pop superstar was whisked away to the Dan Hotel, where the entire fifth floor was closed off. Madonna is expected to rehearse her performance in front of live audience at Tel Aviv Expo – where the contest is taking place – before performing at the Grand Finale on Saturday.
המטוס של מדונה pic.twitter.com/OLNTY1UWwo
— Ran Boker רן בוקר (@ranboker) May 14, 2019
On Tuesday, the singer defended her decision to appear at the event in Israel. “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,” the singer said in a statement. “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 added.
Israel is hosting the Eurovision contest after local singer Netta Barzilai won last year with her song “Toy”. The winning country customarily hosts the following year.
Pop superstar Madonna promised her fans “something special” during her planned performance at Saturday’s final of the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Israel. Madonna spent much of Wednesday afternoon rehearsing her performance at Expo Tel Aviv, where the competition is being held. In a series of tweets, the music icon shared several pictures and brief clips of the rehearsals, telling fans she was “preparing something special.”
Channel 12’s entertainment correspondent Guy Pines tweeted a video of Madonna rehearsing her 1989 hit “Like a Prayer” flanked by dozens of dancers dressed in monk’s habits. The costumes revealed during Wednesday’s rehearsal reportedly sparked concern in the European Broadcasting Union that European audiences would object to its critical portrayal of Christianity.
פרסום ראשון: משבר חדש עם ההופעה של מדונה באירוויזיון. ארגון השידור האירופי מתנגד למסרים אנטי נוצריים בהופעה של ״לייק א פרייר״ ומנסה לצנזרם- מדונה מסרבת pic.twitter.com/UwCSIEDyfb
— erevtov (@erevtov2) May 15, 2019
Pines said Madonna has yet to sign a formal contract for her appearance, and that organizers were still hammering out the details for her two-song performance on Saturday.
Madonna landed in Tel Aviv Tuesday night, defying calls by pro-Palestinian activists for her to boycott the international song competition hosted by Israel. In a statement ahead of her trip, Madonna said she was determined to perform at the Eurovision finals despite the boycott calls.
“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,” the singer said in the statement carried by US media.