13:57 GMT06 March 2021
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    The Eurovision Song Contest has courted controversy over the organisers' move to hold this year's edition in Israel. Activists have called for a boycott of the competition, citing the alleged discrimination of Palestinians by the state of Israel.

    Scottish musician Bobby Gillespie has called Madonna a "total prostitute" for her decision to perform at Eurovision in Tel Aviv despite criticism from pro-Palestinian activists.

    "Madonna would do anything for money, you know, she's a total prostitute," Gillespie told BBC Newsnight. "And I've got nothing against prostitutes. The whole thing is set up to normalise the state of Israel and its disgraceful treatment of the Palestinian people."

    "And by going to perform in Israel, I think what you do is you normalise that. So, Primal Scream would never perform in Israel, and I think Madonna is just desperate for publicity, desperate for the money," the Primal Scream frontman added.

    Gillespie went on to call Israel "stolen land" but refused to call himself an anti-Semite: "I'm not anti-Semitic at all. All my heroes are Jews. Karl Marx, Bob Dylan, The Marx Brothers."

    Europe's most popular song contest, Eurovision, is traditionally held in the country that won the previous year's competition. Israeli singer Netta Barzilai was last year's winner, which enabled her country to host the competition for a third time; Jerusalem hosted the event in 1979 and 1999.

    Madonna is scheduled to perform two songs during the grand final on Saturday: her 1989 hit Like A Prayer and a single from her upcoming album Madame X.

    The announcement of her performance in April sparked backlash from a number of artists who accuse Israel of oppressing Palestinians. Pink Floyd founding father Roger Waters has been perhaps the most outspoken of them: he said Eurovision's decision to host the contest in Israel was "betraying" humanity and accused Madonna of "normalising apartheid".

    The 60-year-old Queen of Pop, meanwhile, refused to bow to pressure. "I'll never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

    "My 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. I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace," she added.


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