Madonna Vows To Perform In Israel Despite Protests

Madonna said Tuesday she won’t back out of performing at the Eurovision Song Contest finals in Israel this weekend, despite calls for her to boycott the event.

“I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda,” the pop superstar said, in a statement to Reuters, “nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.”

Madonna has been under fire from pro-Palestinian activists since it was announced last month that she would be performing in Tel Aviv on May 18. Former Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters publicly criticized her for normalizing “the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children [and] the  slaughter of unarmed protesters.”

In her statement, Madonna said: “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.”

Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams is forking out a reported $1.3 million to have Madonna perform at the Eurovision Song Contest. She will reportedly perform one of her hits (reportedly “Like a Prayer”) as well as a song (reportedly "I Rise") from her forthcoming album Madame X.

On Monday, Eurovision Song Contest producers said they were not even sure Madonna would appear on the show.

“The European Broadcasting Union has never confirmed Madonna as an act,” executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand said at a press conference.

The 60-year-old singer had not yet signed a contract. “If we do not have a signed contract she cannot perform on our stage,” said Sand.

“We are in a situation now that is a bit strange We have an artist who would like to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, and who we would love to welcome on that stage. But for that we need to have the framework secured.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that Madonna is scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv on Wednesday – on Adams' private jet –  to begin rehearsals.

The Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Tel Aviv this year because last year’s winner was Israeli singer Netta. Previous winners of the Eurovision Song Contest include ABBA in 1974 and Canada's Céline Dion (representing Switzerland) in 1988.