Eurovision Producers ‘Unaware’ Madonna Would Use Israeli, Palestinian Flags in Performance

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MAY 17: Dancers for Madonna display the flags of Israel and Palestine on their backs during Madonnas performance live on stage during the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 17, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
Michael Campanella/Getty

TEL AVIV – Madonna’s two backup dancers sported Palestinian and Israeli flags at her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, ostensibly violating the contest’s rules to abstain from politics. 

Madonna, who arrived in Israel for a 15-minute set at the competition, sang her hit song “Like a Prayer” and a new song, “Future,” featuring lyrics that included a call to “Come make peace.”

The dancers, wearing a Palestinian and Israeli flag respectively, are seen arm in arm.

According to the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the contest, the inclusion of Israeli and Palestinian flags in the show was not approved in advance and was not in the rehearsals.

“Two of Madonna’s dancers briefly displayed the Israeli and Palestinian flags on the back of their outfits,” a statement from the union said.

“This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared,” the union said. “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”

Before her performance, Madonna was interviewed by the show’s host Assi Azar in the green room. She spurred on the contestants to sing in chorus, “Music makes the people come together,” a line from her own song.

Iceland’s representative, an anti-capitalist bondage-clad group called Hatari, had vowed to use the Eurovision stage to make a statement against “Israel’s occupation” as well as bring down global capitalism. On the night, they managed to wave Palestinian flag banners when the camera homed on in on them.

Madonna’s performance received mixed reviews, with some people critiquing her for being out of tune. Others still mocked the pirate eye patch she sported, while on social media Israelis joked that she was paying homage to former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who famously wore an eye patch.

Last month, fellow musician Roger Waters appealed to Madonna to rethink her decision to perform at Israel’s Eurovision, saying it “normalizes the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters.”

However, the singer, who was accompanied by an entourage of some 135 people including rapper KoVu, a choir of 40 singers, and 25 dancers, told Reuters that she would “never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda.”

Sylvan Adams, the Canadian-Israeli philanthropist who picked up the hefty $1.3 million tab to bring Madonna to Israel, called Waters an “idiot.”

“He’s an idiot. He’s an idiot with a serious ignorance about history,” Adams said.

Speaking to Breitbart News the day Madonna arrived in Israel last week, Adams predicted her appearance at the song contest would make for the “best Eurovision ever.”

Madonna has “glamour and reach,” Adams told Breitbart News. “She makes news, and by the way, so does Israel.”

“This combination will have us in every major newspaper in the U.S.,” he added.

Speaking to Channel 12 news, he also said that she had covered some of the costs of her performance out of her own pocket.

“She wanted to come,” he said. “She knows us, she likes us.”

“It’s really good to have friends like that.”

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