Madonna has come in for criticism from Israel’s culture minister for including a political element in her Eurovision Song Contest performance.
The superstar was booked as the entertainment at Saturday night’s (May 18) show in Tel Aviv while voting was taking place, but ignored warnings to keep any political commentary out of her act.
She was joined on stage by two dancers wearing Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs, angering right-wing minister Miri Regev.
Regev said: “It was an error. Politics and a cultural event should not be mixed, with all due respect to Madonna.”
Organisers could have guessed there would be some friction, as before the show Madonna had said: “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.”
Displaying the Palestinian flag inside Israel is a controversial move, but was thought to represent unity in the performance.
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, spoke out against both Madonna’s performance and Icelandic group Hatari who waved scarves with the Palestinian flag on them during the results announcement.
An EBU spokesperson said: “This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”
However, displaying the two flags on her dancers did not go nearly far enough for some, with fans and fellow musicians slamming Madonna for having agreed to perform in Israel at all.
Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie did not hold back when he aired his views on the star’s decision in the week leading up to the show.
He told Newsnight: “Well Madonna would do anything for money, she’s a total prostitute. Nothing against prostitutes but I think the whole thing is set up to normalise the State of Israel and its disgraceful treatment of the Palestinian people.
“By going to perform in Israel I think what you do is, you normalise that. Primal Scream would never perform in Israel.
“I think Madonna is desperate for publicity, desperate for the money. She would be getting paid, they pay very, very well.”
Madonna’s Eurovision turn was also criticised for featuring some pitchy vocals on her classic hit Like a Prayer, before she moved on to new track Future.