‘Material Girl’ Madonna fails to deflect anger over Israel Eurovision broadcasts

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Luca Hanni of Switzerland performs the song 'She Got Me" during the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest grand final rehearsal in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, May 17. (AP)
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A Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba', or catastrophe, and against Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 15. (Reuters)
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Singer Madonna walks in a street ahead of the final of 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel May 16, 2019. Picture taken May 16. (Reuters)
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France's Bilal Hassani performs the song Roi during the final rehearsals on the eve of the final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 17, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019

‘Material Girl’ Madonna fails to deflect anger over Israel Eurovision broadcasts

  • BDS movement claims Israel “shamelessly” using song contest as part of ‘Brand Israel’ strategy
  • The BBC under fire for televising the event in UK amid popular support for the Palestinian cause

LONDON: Not even some Madonna magic was enough to deflect a global chorus of complaints leveled at broadcasters for airing this Saturday’s Eurovision final in Israel.

The 60-year-old queen of pop was hired for a special guest performance in a move dismissed by Palestinian campaigners as a publicity stunt to deflect negative global press coverage of the event.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement claims Tel Aviv is “shamelessly” using the international song contest as part of its ‘Brand Israel’ strategy, which seeks to deflect attention of what it sees as the systemic persecution of Palestinians.




Singer Madonna walks in a street ahead of the final of 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel May 16, 2019. Picture taken May 16. (Reuters)

The BBC, which is funded by the British public, has come under fire for televising the event amid popular support for the Palestinian cause in the UK

Indeed a 2017 Arab News poll conducted by YouGov found that 53 percent of respondents believe the UK should recognize Palestine as a state.

Other European national broadcasters have also faced a viewer backlash.

Last month protesters built a fake stone wall to mimic the Israel−Gaza security barrier outside the headquarters of Irish national broadcaster RTÉ in Dublin.

They handed in a petition of more than 16,500 signatures calling on RTÉ not to take part in the singing contest.




A Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba', or catastrophe, and against Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 15. (Reuters)

A BBC spokesperson told Arab News that the choice of host country for the event was determined by the rules of the competition rather than the broadcaster.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign. The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons. Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event,” the spokesperson said.

Israel has dismissed the boycott calls as discriminatory and anti-semitic.

Madonna has defended her decision to sing at Eurovision, saying that she will always speak up to defend human rights.

However the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott said: “Artwashing Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians for a million dollars must be among the most immoral political agendas.”


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 min 6 sec ago

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.