The singer Madonna has announced she’ll be singing at next month’s final of the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv before an estimated global audience of 180 million viewers. She intends to perform two songs, including a new one from her forthcoming album.
Cue all the too predictable outrage from those who demonize Israel. Jewish Voice for Peace launched a “Tell Madonna to Choose Freedom” campaign, claiming that “there’s no neutrality in situations of injustice,” and calling on the star to “stay home” and “lend your voice for freedom.”
Would that be the same Jewish Voice for Peace which blamed Israel and pro-Israel Jews for US police brutality against African Americans, thus sliding from its habitual vicious falsehoods about Israel into an antisemitic blood libel?
The Madonna furor is but the latest development in the campaign to boycott the Eurovision final. In Britain, cultural figures such as musicians Peter Gabriel and Roger Waters, actors Julie Christie and Miriam Margolyes, directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, and writer Caryl Churchill signed a letter calling on the BBC to push for the final to be moved to another country on the grounds of Israel’s “systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.”
Would that be the same Caryl Churchill whose 2009 play, Seven Jewish Children, accused the Jews of inflicting upon others through the State of Israel the same kind of extermination that had been meted out to them, rooting this murderous trait in Judaism itself with lines such as this one: “Tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people”?
An open letter from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel suggested Madonna’s appearance would be used by the Israeli government “to mask its deepening oppression of Palestinians.”
What oppression would that be? The corruption of the Hamas regime in Gaza causing shortages of food and essential supplies? The censorship, intimidation and jailing of journalists by the Palestinian Authority? Israel’s regular supplies of aid to the residents of Gaza, who repay this humanitarian policy by launching aerial firebombs and other missiles at southern Israel and try to storm the Gaza border with the intention of slaughtering as many Israelis as possible?
This surreal hate-campaign against the only free society for Arabs in the whole of the Middle East was on the cards ever since Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won last year’s Eurovision song contest, thus bringing this year’s final to Israel.
Unpleasant as it is, though, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign brings irresistibly to mind the apocryphal individual discovered hiding in the jungle decades after the end of World War II and who has to have the news broken to him that the war is over.
For in its own terms, BDS has been a spectacular failure. Nearly 1,000 artists have reportedly performed in Israel in defiance of the boycott. These include Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Rihanna and Rod Stewart.
Nasreen Qadri, an Israeli Arab Muslim singer who has performed with Radiohead, has attacked the BDS campaign. So have Harry Potter author JK Rowling and more than 150 other prominent British artists.
Earlier this week, the online hospitality service Airbnb announced that it had reversed the decision it took last November to boycott about 200 Jewish-owned properties in Judea and Samaria, saying it now understood “the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement.”
Countries are queuing up to develop ties with Israel. Relations are steadily being normalized with Muslim states such as Sudan, Niger, Mali and Chad. Increasingly indifferent to the Palestinian cause, the Gulf states are in a not-so-tacit alliance with Israel against Iran.
Even the hostile European Union has invested $100 million in a feasibility study about importing Israeli natural gas to the continent.
Israel itself has become a global powerhouse wildly disproportionate to its size, with its start-ups taking it to third place after the US and China on the Nasdaq list, coming 11th in the UN’s world happiness rankings, having tourism at record levels – and with a birthrate far outstripping that in the decaying West.
And it is among the intellectual and culturally powerful classes in the West, the classes in which demoralized and self-destructive anti-Western attitudes hold sway, that antisemitism and anti-Zionism are rampant.
In Britain, the Labour Party leadership is refusing to discipline hundreds of members who have made astoundingly bigoted comments about Israel and the Jews, including foul-mouthed comparisons between Israel and the Nazis, and claims that Jewish money or the State of Israel manipulate and control world politics.
The police are currently investigating a complaint against the National Theatre’s former head of music, Matthew Scott. According to press reports, he is alleged to have written on his Facebook page: “The time for the erasure of Israel and the completion of the cleansing process is rapidly approaching. Can Netanyahu now see that his actions are feeding the furnace?”
In the US, three Democratic congresswomen support the Israel boycott – and one of them, Ilhan Omar, has made repeated antisemitic comments.
Supporting BDS, moreover, is not just bigotry. It is an orchestrated campaign of extermination. Its co-founder Omar Barghouti, who said in 2014 that Palestinians had a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” also said: “definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”
In the US, Marc Greendorfer, founder of the Zachor Legal Institute, has said reports to Congress show that the Palestinian Liberation Organization has a “war room” in Europe from which it coordinates and funds BDS groups in America.
In a brief filed earlier this year as part of a court case concerning Arizona’s anti-BDS law, the state’s attorney-general Mark Brnovich noted that the BDS campaign aids Palestinian terrorist groups including Hamas, as well as the PLO, which provides payments and stipends to convicted terrorists or their families.
This is hardly surprising. After all, given the increasing indifference of the Arab world, the one remaining weapon in the Palestinians’ political armory is the hatred of Israel by the useful idiots of the Western Left.
Within those Western circles, it’s clear that the campaign against Israel is another symptom of “intersectionality,” that Orwellian discourse which links “victim” groups into a phalanx of grievance culture, and presents hatred, lies and bigotry as “social justice.”
This is the orthodoxy of the Left – and rule by the Left always spells failure. Tragically, the one real success of the BDS movement is in accelerating dislike of Israel within the American Jewish community – which is already on the way to decimating itself through turning away from Jewish precepts and embracing their antithesis in liberal universalist ideologies.
Where the Left controls the culture, as in Britain, Western Europe or America, that culture is literally dying out. And through their hatred of Israel and the Jews, the Left in such countries is wrapping itself round a death cult.
Countries hostile to Israel are in existential trouble because they are culturally demoralized and beaten; those extending to it hands of friendship tend instead to be driven by optimism that they can make a better future for themselves.
That’s because Israel, which has risen out of the ashes of catastrophe to aim literally for the moon, is nothing less than a symbol of hope and the human spirit to inspire the world. And that’s something for others besides Madonna to sing about.