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(JTA) Madonna defies boycott demands Pop icon Madonna says she will not cancel her Eurovision appearance due to calls for a boycott, and she will always call out human-rights violations around the world.
by JTA | May 16, 2019

Madonna reportedly is scheduled to perform at the Eurovision finals in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Pro-Palestinian activists have called for performers and fans to boycott the competition, reaching out directly to Madonna.

“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,” Madonna said in a statement to Reuters.

“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.”

Madonna’s Ray of Light foundation, which promotes social justice and women’s empowerment worldwide, supports a number of Palestinian projects.

She was expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday with an entourage of 135.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Eurovision, Jon Ola Sand, told reporters on Monday that it is not yet clear whether the 60-year-old singer will take the stage on Saturday night since the European Broadcasting Union was still negotiating the terms of her contract.

Jewish woman injured in Sweden stabbing

A Jewish woman was stabbed and severely injured in Helsingborg, a city in southern Sweden, on Tuesday.

The attack is being investigated as a potential hate crime, though it is not clear at this point whether the woman was targeted because she is Jewish, police told the SVT broadcaster. The victim is in critical condition.

The assailant fled the scene on foot following the assault with a large knife or sharp object. The victim shouted, “Help me!” in English to passers-by as the attacker ran, Aftonbladet reported.

The woman, in her 60s, was on her way to work when she was assaulted. Stockholm’s Jewish community wrote on Facebook that the victim served as secretary of the Jewish community of Helsingborg.

Joyce Carol Oates reflects on lost Jewish heritage

Joyce Carol Oates’ grandmother was Jewish, but the author wasn’t aware of that fact until after her grandmother’s death in 1970. After immigrating to America, Oates’ ancestor hid her Jewish heritage from the rest of her family.

“I felt an immense loss and sympathy because I never really knew that my grandmother was Jewish, so my whole cultural inheritance was lost,” the acclaimed novelist told the Associated Press on Sunday in Jerusalem, where she received the prestigious Jerusalem Prize.

Her grandmother, who fled persecution in Germany in the late 19th century, helped foster Oates’ love of books, giving her a copy of Alice in Wonderland, and a library card at a young age.

“No one else in my Hungarian and Irish family had any interest in books,” she said. “There’s a tragedy at the loss of my grandmother’s history, but then a joy in this connection.”

Einstein letter up for auction

A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein expressing sarcastic support for the anti-Semitic policies enacted by Austria is to be auctioned.

The letter, dated 30 September 1936, was written shortly before Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany, and addressed to Jacob Billikopf, an American-Jewish social activist and philanthropist who was working on getting as many Jews in Europe as possible to escape Nazi Germany.

It was written in response to an article sent to Einstein by Billikopf claiming that the Austrian government had adopted anti-Semitic policies for the benefit of its Jews.

“Especially interesting is the part dealing with the attitude of the Austrian government toward the Jews, and it is even reasonable – a speck of ‘discrimination’ so as to protect us from the wrath of the masses,” the famed Jewish-German physicist wrote. “That is certainly a good point [and look at the American universities].”

Einstein’s mention of US universities is believed to refer to quotas of Jewish students in several prominent educational institutions at the time.

The letter is expected to sell for as much as $30 000 (R427,592).

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