Iconic American pop star Madonna refused to cancel her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 taking place in Tel Aviv, Israel this week, despite calls for a boycott.
In a statement, Madonna said she will not let a political agenda stop her.
“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,” the singer said in a statement to Reuters.
“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 will play two songs from her upcoming “Madame X” album on Saturday during the finals, according to Reuters.
Madonna’s Ray of Light Foundation reportedly sponsors a number of projects in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including funding the salaries of teachers and microloans for female farmers through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Palestinian Fair Trade Association.
The Eurovision Song Contest includes more than 40 nations and, in 2018, was reportedly watched by more than 189 million viewers in about 50 European countries. Israel’s Netta Barzilai won Eurovision last year with her song, “Toy.” According to the rules, Eurovision takes place in the country that won the previous year.
Last week, The Daily Wire reported that the Israeli government released a report showing that various Palestinian groups are using Twitter “bots” to grow support for the boycott of Eurovision.
The report, titled “The Big Scam: How BDS is Manipulating Social Media Against Eurovision 2019,” was released by Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy.
According to the report, the investigation into the campaign started in November 2018 and found 166 bots and 41 trolls which are estimated to have reached 10 million Twitter users. The report underscores that it is likely “the number of bots and fake accounts used in this deception scheme is much greater than the findings in this report.”
In the report, bots are defined as “an account whose content is created by human operators and is proliferated automatically by software.” Trolls are defined as “an active fake account operated periodically by an authentic person, but without the details of the person operating it, but rather fictitious information.”
The report claims that the bots were operated from several countries, including France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Egypt, and Indonesia. The investigators believe the deception campaign “was intended to create an impression of significant public support aimed at pressuring European broadcasting corporations and artists participating in the competition to succumb to the boycott.”
The deception campaign was “devised and spearheaded” by Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) along with other boycott organizations, the report states. The campaign will strengthen prior to the beginning of Eurovision on May 14, analysts believe.
To prevent more fake influence, the department requests that social media companies examine BDS organizations and prevent “fraudulent activity.” It calls on European broadcasting corporations and Eurovision artists to be aware of the allegedly deceptive campaigns.
Twitter suspended “a small network of accounts” after the Israeli complaint, according to The Times of Israel.