I was at the Madonna “Concert for Peace” last Thursday night (at the Ramat Gan national soccer stadium). No, I wouldn’t have paid for a ticket, but since she contributed 600 tickets to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs working for peace, as a gesture of support, two to each organization, I went. These were my impressions [published in their entirety as “Madonna for Peace” at the Times of Israel website]:
“You can’t be a fan of mine and not want peace in the world,” declared Madonna to a crowd of some 30,000 enthusiastic fans in Tel Aviv last night. The singer and general phenomenon chose to open her current world tour in Israel, at the Ramat Gan National Soccer stadium on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, because, as she explained in a mid-concert speech, “the conflict in the Middle East has been going on for generations, for thousands of years,” and “if there is peace in the Middle East, there can be peace in the whole world.”
She chose to call the event a “Concert for Peace,” and gave out 600 free tickets to the 100 civil society organizations of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum, which comprises 60 Israeli and 40 Palestinian peace, human rights, interfaith and democracy organizations.
…. A special gallery on the side of the stage was built to host the peace activists, with a big sign hanging over the railing, facing the general audience: “Working for Peace – the Peace Organizations’ Forum.” About half of the activists in the section were Israeli; the other half Palestinian. Also present were the two co-chairs of the Peace NGO Forum, the Israeli Dr. Ron Pundak, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, and Palestinian journalist and veteran activist Saman Khoury, a co-architect of the Geneva Accord.
The show itself was an extraordinary display of talent by a total performer who combines dance, singing and acting abilities into one complete art form. Clearly, Madonna is the consummate professional, constantly working on developing her performer persona, moving between the spiritual and the profane, love and death, the erotic and the exotic, always pushing things to the limits.
“Respect yourself,” she sang, “express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” It’s “time to live dangerously,” she said, out on her own at the edge of the ramp, in the middle of the audience. Then came renditions of “Erotica,” “Like a virgin,” and of course, the climactic frenzy of “Like a prayer,” with everyone swaying on the steps and in the aisles.
The entire article is published online at the Times of Israel website.