Madonna uses Eurovision stage for political statement on Israel-Palestinian conflict

Madonna live on stage at the Eurovision Song Contest at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, May 17, 2019. Photo: Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Pop idol Madonna made a political statement about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on stage at Eurovision in Tel Aviv.

She later was reprimanded by the European Broadcasting Union, or EBU, which produced the event with the host country.

Madonna, 60, played two songs on Saturday night during the international song contest. She performed a slightly off-key version of “Like A Prayer” to mark the 30th anniversary of the hit song’s release, and her newest single “Future” with guest star Quavo.

At the end of “Future,” Madonna sang: “Not everyone is coming to the future/ Not everyone is learning from the past/ Not everyone can come into the future/ Not everyone that’s here is gonna last.” Her dancers, wearing gas masks, began walking up the stairs of her elaborate set two by two. The last two dancers each had a flag hanging on his and her backs – one Israeli flag and one Palestinian flag.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

The Palestinian flag also made an appearance during the announcement of the score for the popular vote. After the score for Iceland’s Hatari was announced, the punk band, which has criticized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and toured Hebron during the competition, displayed banners decorated with the Palestinian flag and the word Palestine.

The EBU issued statements after the incidents. Of the Madonna protest it said: “This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals that had been cleared with the EBU and the Host Broadcaster, KAN. The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”

The EBU said it was considering punishing Iceland for the actions of its contestants.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and this directly contradicts the contest rules. The banners were quickly removed and the consequences of this action will be discussed” by the contest’s executive board,” it said in a second statement.