Madonna has sparked controversy with her Eurovision Song Contest performance after her backing dancers displayed Iraeli and Palestinian flags was not an approved part of the act, organisers said.
The pop star, 60, defied calls from pro-Palestinian activists to cancel her gig in Tel Aviv, saying beforehand she wanted to create “a new path toward peace”.
During her performance at the final, Madonna’s backing dancers were seen wearing Israel and Palestine flags on their backs.
Eurovision has now confirmed they were not an approved part of the show and Madonna has “been made aware” the event is supposed to be “non-political”.
Eurovision said: “In the live broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final, two of Madonna’s dancers briefly displayed the Israeli and Palestinian flags on the back of their outfits.
“This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared with the EBU and the Host Broadcaster, KAN. The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”
Madonna had taken to the stage flanked by 30 dancers dressed as monks.
The Queen of Pop appeared at the top of a flight of steps, dressed in a cape and hood and wearing a metal breastplate.
Brandishing a cross, she stepped slowly towards the crowd at the Expo Tel Aviv and sung her 1989 hit Like A Prayer to raucous applause.
Madonna then performed new song Future, a collaboration with Migos rapper Quavo who appeared on stage with her.
Earlier in the night she appeared in a pre-recorded message, warning the public to not “underestimate the power of music to bring people together”.
She said: “You’re all winners, no matter what happens. The reason I mean that is because to get here, where you are right now, is not easy. Right?
“First you had a dream and then you had to believe in that dream, and you had to make many sacrifices. That makes you a winner no matter what.
“Another really obvious statement is, look at all the delegates behind us, everyone here is from all over the world. So many countries that I have been privileged not just to visit but to experience.
“And the one thing that brings me to those countries, and the thing that brings all these people here tonight, is music.
“So let’s not underestimate the power of music to bring people together. That’s the most important thing. Music makes the people come together.”
Madonna’s performance comes as she returns following a four-year hiatus.
She is preparing to release Madame X, her 14th album, and earlier this month announced a world tour including a string of shows at the London Palladium.
Sawsan Chebli. “Israel is an existent reality and I believe that all those who want peace should unite against those who are against peace.” HANNIBAL HANSCHKE / dpa Picture-
A Synagogue Renovation in Berlin, and the Palestinian Making It Happen
Chebli is an example of breaking the stereotypes and justly not letting the exploitation of Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the ignorants
Stay Mashiach// Chebli and her husband get into a taxi in Tel Aviv on the way to visit friends. “Where are you from?” the driver asks. “From Germany,” they reply. “Ahh, Germany,” he says. “They’re so dumb – those Germans. They took in all the refugees, the whole of Europe changed. How do they plan to integrate all those Muslims into society now?” Chebli’s husband gives her a wary glance; he knows what’s about to happen. “Uskuti (be quiet),” he mutters in Arabic, but in vain.
In 2013, ISI began seizing territory in Syria and changed its name toIslamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis/Isil). The next year Isis overran large parts of Iraq, proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph, and became known as “Islamic State“.
This timeline chronicles the lightning rise, cruel reign and gradual fall of Islamic State.
* 2004-11 – In the chaos following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, an al Qaeda offshoot sets up there, changing its name in 2006 to Islamic State in Iraq.
* 2011 – After Syria’s crisis begins, the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sends operatives there to set up a Syrian subsidiary. Baghdadi follows in 2013, breaking with al Qaeda and renaming his group “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.
* 2014 – Its sudden success starts with the seizure of Fallujah in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria at the turn of the year. The jihadists take Mosul and Tikrit in June and overrun the border with Syria. At Mosul’s great Mosque, Baghdadi renames the group Islamic State (IS) and declares a caliphate.
So begins a reign of terror. In Iraq, IS slaughters thousands of Yazidis in Sinjar and forces more than 7,000 women and girls into sexual slavery. In Syria, it massacres hundreds of members of the Sheitaat tribe. IS beheads Western hostages in grotesquely choreographed films.
In September, the United States builds a coalition against IS and starts air strikes to stop its momentum, helping the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia turn the militants back from Kobani on the border with Turkey.
* 2015 – Militants in Paris attack a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket, the bloody start to a wave of attacks that IS claims around the world. Militants in Libya behead Christians and pledge allegiance to IS, followed by groups in other countries, but they stay operationally independent.
In May, IS takes Ramadi in Iraq and the ancient desert town of Palmyra in Syria, but by the end of the year it is on the back foot in both countries.
* 2016 – Iraq takes back Fallujah in June, the first town IS had captured during its initial blaze of success. In August, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG, takes Manbij in Syria.
Alarmed by the Kurdish advances near its own frontier, Turkey launches an offensive into Syria against both IS and the YPG. Enmity between Turkey and the YPG will continue to complicate operations against IS.
* 2017 – Islamic State suffers a year of catastrophic defeats. In June it loses Mosul to Iraqi forces after months of fighting and Baghdad declares the end of the caliphate. In September the Syrian army races eastwards backed by Russia and Iran to relieve Deir al-Zor and re-extend state control at the Euphrates River. In October, the SDF drives IS from Raqqa.
* 2018 – The Syrian government retakes IS enclaves in Yarmouk, south of Damascus, and on the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The SDF advances further down the Euphrates and Iraqi forces take the rest of the border region. The United States vows to withdraw troops.
* 2019 – IS fighters are defeated at their last enclave on the Euphrates at the village of Baghouz, the SDF says. The SDF declares the “caliphate” eliminated.
Compiled by Angus McDowall; Editing by Tom Perry/Mark Heinrich
Damascus condemned on Friday U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that it was time for the to recognition of Israeli sovereignty on Golan Heights, declaring Syria would recover the area using “all available means”.
Syria expressed outrage and said it was determined to recover the area “through all available means”.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Trump’s statement had brought the region to the edge of a new crisis. In a speech at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Erdogan said: “We cannot allow the legitimisation of the occupation of the Golan Heights”.
Syria’s state news agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying Trump showed “the blind bias of the United States” towards Israel.
“The Golan is a territory occupied by Israel since 1967. France does not recognize the Israeli annexation of 1981,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a daily briefing, according to Reuters.
“The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, occupied territory, would be contrary to international law, in particular the obligation for states not to recognize an illegal situation.”
It did not change “the reality that the Golan was and will remain Syrian, Arab”, the source said.
“The Syrian nation is more determined to liberate this precious piece of Syrian national land through all available means,” the source said, adding that Mr Trump’s statement was “irresponsible” and showed “contempt” for international law.
Russia’s foreign ministry said Mr Trump’s statement was a direct violation of United Nations decisions, RIA news agency said.
Mr Trump said on Thursday that it was time to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that Israel seized from Syria in 1967, marking a dramatic shift in US policy and giving a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the middle of his re-election campaign.
The disputed area was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move not recognised internationally.
Syria, Russia and Iran condemn US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan
CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|REUTERS|Trump’s Twitter announcement, reversing over 50 years of policy, said to catch both American and Israeli officials off-guard.
Syria and its allies Russia and Iran on Friday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state captured from its northern neighbor in the 1967 Six Day War.
Quoting an unnamed foreign ministry official, Syria’s official SANA news agency slammed the decision as “irresponsible” and a violation of United Nations resolutions concerning the territory’s status.
“Syria strongly condemns the irresponsible declaration of the American president, which again proves the US’s blind tendency in favor of the Zionist entity and its unreserved support for its aggression,” the official said. “The Syrian people remain committed to the liberation of the Golan Heights by all means at its disposal.”
The source added that Trump’s statement won’t change “the fact that the Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian.”
The comments were Syria’s first reaction to Trump’s surprise Thursday announcement, which has been met with largely muted responses by the international community.
Russia, which has long been a key backer of Syria and is fighting alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war, condemned Trump’s declaration as a violation of UN decisions.
“Russia, as you know, takes a principled position on the issue of the Syrian Arab Republic’s ownership of the Golan Heights… Our assessment of the unlawful nature of Israel’s decision to extend its sovereignty to the Golan Heights remains unchanged, ” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by state-sponsored Sputnik News.
“Changing the status of the Golan Heights bypassing the Security Council is in direct violation of UN decisions,” Zakharova added.
Iran, another key ally of the Assad regime, said the move was illegal.
“This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said, according to Reuters.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the US announcement brought the region to the brink of a fresh crisis.
“We cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights,” he said Friday morning in a speech at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, according to Reuters.
In signature fashion, Trump made the announcement on Twitter, reversing over 50 years of US policy since Israel’s capture of the strategic plateau from Syria.
Trump’s recognition caught officials in Israel and the United States off-guard, according to the McClatchy news agency.
“We all found out by tweet,” an Israeli official was quoted as saying. “We’ve been lobbying for this for a long time, but it was not the product of one phone call. There were hints, but we weren’t given advance notice.”
Another Israeli source told the news agency that Israeli leaders were informed of the decision shortly beforehand, as with Trump’s abrupt announcement in December that he would pull all US forces out of Syria.
According to the report, Trump’s Middle East peace negotiators and the State Department were also surprised by the move, with US officials having expected an announcement when Trump hosts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House next week.
Netanyahu appeared overjoyed while praising the decision in a press conference in Jerusalem Thursday alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who the New York Times noted “looked caught off-guard.”
While the timing of Trump’s decision was unexpected, there were a number of hints at a coming US policy shift, including the State Department’s defining of the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” instead of “Israeli-occupied” for the first time, in a human rights report released last week.
Trump’s tweet was not preceded by a policy review, according to McClatchy, and it was not clear if the US president would follow up the announcement with a more official recognition such as an executive order.
It was also unclear if Israel would respond with a move of its own, as it never formally annexed the Golan Heights despite having extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, in a move never recognized internationally.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton visits the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, January 6, 2019. (Ziv Sokolov/US Embassy Jerusalem)
Quoting unnamed White House officials, the news agency said Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton was a key force behind the move following his visit to Israel in January, seeing it as a signal the US remained committed to Israel in the wake of Trump’s announcement of the US troop pullout.
US Ambassador David Friedman also reportedly pushed for the recognition on the same grounds.
Israel in recent years has warned that its arch-enemy Iran is trying to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten the Jewish state, and has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets there linked to Iran.
“It was an ask,” an Israeli official told McClatchy. “Because of the timing — it suddenly became a relevant issue about Iran.”