Madonna rebuffs calls for boycott of Israeli Eurovision
Pop star Madonna has rejected calls for her to boycott this year's Eurovision song contest in Israel, saying she will "never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda".
Madonna issued a statement on Tuesday, ahead of her expected arrival in Tel Aviv for a performance at the Eurovision.
The 60-year-old said her "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 says she prays for "a new path toward peace."
The Gaza Strip-based Palestinian Artists Association renewed the call for a boycott on Wednesday, saying that Israel is using the event to "perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime."
After Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision contest in Portugal, Palestinians and allies pledged to boycott the 2019 contest over the occupation of Palestine.
But efforts by activists calling for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel have failed to move the competition.
The BDS movement urged artists to skip this week's Eurovision in Tel Aviv. In a statement, it accused Madonna of "artwashing" and urged her to cancel.
London Palestine Action are releasing three Madonna spoofs to draw attention to the issue, including "Madonna Don’t Go", a parody of Papa Don't Preach, as the Queen of Pop is due to perform at the star-studded event in Tel Aviv.
Other artists have responded to the call for boycott. Mercury Prize-winning band Wolf Alice backed the Eurovision boycott.
"We asked Palestine - 'do you want us to come?' 'No - do not come' and that's what you do, you respect the people who are being oppressed,” said guitarist Joff Oddie.
Wolf Alice are among a number of musicians, including Peter Gabriel and Roger Waters, who signed an open letter in January calling for a boycott and for the BBC to cancel its coverage of the contest.
A group of celebrities - among them Stephen Fry and Sharon Obsourne - signed a counter open letter rejecting the boycott.
The BDS movement began in 2005 following a call by 170 Palestinian civil society groups.
Its supporters take inspiration from the campaign used by international activists to end apartheid in South Africa by isolating Israel politically and economically.
Agencies contributed to this report.Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab