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Madonna shocks with Israeli, Palestinian flags during Eurovision performance

The Queen of Pop draws mixed reactions from viewers, with some criticising her decision to make a statement, others praising her for using her platform to make a point.

Madonna shocks with Israeli, Palestinian flags during Eurovision performance

Madonna performing at Eurovision 2019 (Photo: AFP / KAN / Orit Pnini)

In much-anticipated appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel, Madonna made an apparent call for peace in the region.

The 60-year-old pop headlined a two-song set on Saturday (May 18) during the final night of the 64th annual continental song competition held in Tel Aviv. 

According to a BBC report, Madonna defied earlier calls from activists to cancel this appearance in Tel Aviv. 

Sporting a black cape and eyepatch, she dipped into her catalogue of hits for a hip-hop-inspired rendition of her 1989 classic Like a Prayer, and performed her new single Future, featuring US rapper Quavo.

During the Queen of Pop’s performance of Future with Quavo, two of her backing dancers were seen walking away with their arms around each other.

On their backs, one dancer wore an Israeli flag and the other wore a Palestinian flag.

The moment didn’t go unnoticed, with fans pointing out the political statement on the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"In the live broadcast... two of Madonna's dancers briefly displayed the Israeli and Palestinian flags on the back of their outfits," a statement from the organisers said following the contest.

The European Broadcasting Union – producer of the Eurovision contest – addressed the dancers’ outfits, confirming that “this element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared with the EBU and the Host Broadcaster, KAN.”

"This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared," it added. "The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this."

The set also saw several background performers falling to the ground while wearing gas masks, and concluded with Madonna and Quavo holding hands as the words “wake up” flashed on a large screen behind them.

A representative for Madonna provided website Entertainment Weekly (EW) with a photo of the performance with a note that “a message of peace is not political.”

EW also reported that in addition to performing, Madonna appeared for a brief interview during Eurovision’s live telecast, telling the audience “The one thing that brings me to [these] countries and the thing that brings all of these people here tonight is music, so let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”

She then quoted her 2000 single Music by saying: “Music makes the people come together, yeah!”

Her performance has drawn a mixed response from viewers. While some criticised her decision to make a statement, others praised her for using her large platform to make a point.

Madonna will be taking her upcoming album Madame X for an intimate tour visiting theaters around the world throughout 2020. The album will drop on June 14.