Netherlands wins Eurovision as Madonna dancers spark flag controversy

The Netherlands won the 2019 Eurovision song contest early Sunday at a show in the seaside Israeli city of Tel Aviv that featured a performance from Madonna, plenty of glitz and some controversy.

The oh-so-glamorous and famously kitschy finale gave Israel a chance to showcase its credentials as a culturally progressive nation, but politics lurked in the background as pro-Palestinian activists called for a boycott.

The extravaganza passed off largely politics-free, though two incidents temporarily drew attention away from the songs and toward Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

Local media showed images of two of Madonna’s dancers side-by-side with Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs during her performance in an apparent call for unity.

Icelandic group Hatari meanwhile displayed scarfs with Palestinian flags when results were being announced.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, condemned both displays.

Referring to Madonna’s dancers, it said “this element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals”.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”

It was not clear whether the singer was aware of the flags during her routine.

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