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Madonna rebuffs calls for boycott of Israeli Eurovision
15 May 2019, 08:13 | Elsie Buchanan
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"I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this bad cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace".
The European Broadcast Union (EBU), which has overall responsibility for the annual event, said it has not yet completed the paperwork necessary for Madonna to perform.
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from the rally, said: "For the activists here, it [the protest] coincides with the first anniversary of the moving of the USA embassy to Jerusalem and the border protest that took place in Gaza on the same day when more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli sniper fire". "If Madonna performs in Israel, crossing the global picket line, she will be helping to normalise this brutality". "We are in a situation now that is a bit unusual. If there is no signed contract this week, she will not be on the stage".
Australian singer Kate Miller-Heidke at the Eurovision semi finals.
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Madonna has recently released a series of singles in the lead up to Madame X, her 14th album, out June 14.
In response to Madonna's statement, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has responded, calling Eurovision an "artwashing" of "Israel's brutal oppression of Palestinians".
The statement said: "The members of the entertainment industry who have signed this statement, along with the thousands of individuals who have endorsed its message, all believe in building bridges through music and the arts as a means to achieving greater understanding and peace in the region".
Neil Farren, a Eurovision commentator live-blogging contest preparations in Tel Aviv, said the visibly heightened security and briefings on air raid sirens and bomb shelters likely rattled some contenders, who have so far remained tight-lipped about the political situation.
The Sabbath was said to be one of the reasons Eurovision organisers and Israeli hosts decided against holding the event in the religiously conservative city of Jerusalem.
Its supporters take inspiration from the campaign used by global activists to end apartheid in South Africa by isolating Israel politically and economically.
Many artists continue to play Israel while condemning the ongoing bloodshed in the Israeli/Palestine conflict, including Nick Cave, who previous year wrote an open letter calling "the cultural boycott of Israel... cowardly and shameful". The country with the most points is declared the victor.
When it was announced last month that Madonna would be performing at Eurovision in Tel Aviv, a number of groups immediately urged her to boycott as a part of the BDS movement.
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