On Saturday, Madonna got a little provocative and used her performance at the roving Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel, to share some politically charged perspectives. While her performance did close out with two dancers—one with the Israeli flag on their back, the other with the Palestinian flag—embracing, it wasn’t like Madge made any screaming proclamations against injustice. She was more focused on the prospect of peace.
But that’s just kind of who Madonna is. She’s provocative politically, but usually prefers to stir things up when it comes sexuality or religion, like in her “Like a Prayer” video where she kissed a black Jesus in the light of burning crosses—which caused a bit of a stink 30 years ago. Her Ray of Light Foundation supports social justice and women’s rights projects, even ones that support Palestinians. However, Madonna is down with the mystical aspects of Judaism known as Kabbalah, and changed her name to Esther. She doesn’t consider herself Jewish, but rather an “Israelite.” So, in middle-of-the road big mouth style, during a pre-show interview, she declared, “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”
Boycotts have been one way that human rights activists can peacefully protest the oppressive policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against the Palestinian people. Pro-Palestine supporters who set up low-key protests around the city asked Madonna to boycott the international Eurovision competition. While many artists have spoken out against the treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government, only some have actually cut the country from their tour schedules, musicians like Elvis Costello, the Pixies, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.
Her voice wavered when she sang a jazzed up version of that controversial song of yore, “Like a Prayer.” She donned a black robe and bedazzled eye patch while flanked by monk-types in gas masks and flower crowns doing a sort of Gregorian chant. For her song “Future” off her latest release Madame X, Madge in a feathered Viking costume teamed up with collaborator Quavo, of Migos. The song is actually pretty catchy with reggae beats, and probably has some legs. It was then that the flag-wearing performers appeared.
Madonna may have a different look every time we blink, but she has always stayed true to herself and given fans just what they wanted, whether it was a young demi-virgin writhing onstage in lingerie or a Khaleesi-looking middle-aged hot mama making art for peace.