“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,” she said in a statement to Reuters.
The comment came amid calls for a boycott from pro-Palestinian activists who have asked companies and perfomers to disengage from Israel over its ongoing conflict with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“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,” she added. “I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”
Madonna is slated to perform at the Eurovision finals in Tel Aviv on Saturday (May 18). The popular competition spotlights musicians from more than 40 countries.
The Reuters statement was Madonna’s first comment to date about the controversy around this year’s competition in Israel, which is hosting the event following local singer Netta Barzilai’s win last year; the winning country typically hosts the next year. Madonna is expected to perform two songs from her upcoming Madame X album on Saturday, though at press time the status of her appearance was unclear following comments on Monday (May 13) from Eurovision’s executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand, who said the singer has not officially been confirmed “for the simple reason that we do not have a signed contract with her team. And if we do not have a signed contract she cannot perform on that stage,” said Sand.
In a video of Sand’s press conference, he said that his team is in the “final stages” of negotiations with Madonna’s team to get a contract signed, adding that if a contract is not signed soon Madonna will not be allowed to appear. “We are in a situation now that is a bit strange,” Sand said. “We have an artist who would like to participate in Eurovision Song Contest, we would love to welcome her on that stage, but for that we need to have the framework secured.”
A spokesperson for Madonna had not returned Billboard‘s request for clarification on the contract issue at press time; as of Tuesday morning (May 14) Madonna’s name did not appear on the official site for the Eurovision contest.
According to Reuters, Madonna’s Ray of Light Foundation promotes social justice and women’s empowerment, as well as a number of Palestinian projects, including “funding teachers’ salaries at schools in the Gaza Strip through the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency UNRWA and micro loans to female farmers through the Palestine Fair Trade Association. The foundation also supports Americans for Peace Now, which campaigns for a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Security has reportedly been tightened in Tel Aviv over fears that activists might try to disrupt the competition.