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Madonna in Israel

Jun 3, 2012 at 07:39:23 AM

The big news in Israel last Thursday was the Madonna concert attended by 40,000 fans in metropolitan Tel Aviv. Because this was the opening gig of her new world tour, media coverage was vast and global.

Welcome to Israel 2012.

Nineteen years ago I authored an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post entitled, "Madonna: Do We Really Wanna-Be?" It coincided with the pop star's first-ever concert in Israel.

At the time, Madonna was pushing the limits of public lewdness: promoting her album "Erotica" and a book entitled simply, "Sex."

My article bemoaned how Madonna's very un-Jewish values were being imported into Israel.

It is a myth that Madonna is the "great liberator." Rather, she has fostered a climate where sexism is the norm, and has thus set the women's movement back 30 years. She has built a career on obscenity, and admits to cultivating a reputation as "a tramp, a harlot... proud of my trashy image."

Jewish communities throughout the ages have always stood against such behavior. The Jewish people are the inventors and leading exporters of core human values such as dignity, modesty and discretion.

Israel in particular is a living workshop where lofty Jewish ideals can become reality. We have built our land so beautifully and have achieved so much. But to chase after the lowly elements of Western society? Is this the expression of "light unto the nations?" Is this the culmination of 2,000 years of struggle and suffering? Is this what IDF soldiers died for? Is this being "free in our land?"

Not so long ago Israeli society still held itself to a higher standard. In the 1960s when British rock legend Cliff Richard performed in Israel, parents protested the negative effects of the raucous atmosphere. No, I’m not a prude. But the point is that Israel – the model of morality for world Jewry, and the model for all humanity – had drawn a line.

Achad HaAm called Israel "the historic center of a roving spiritual idea." When Madonna kicks off her world tour and the world watches so closely, we have to wonder: Is this really what we want them to see?

June 3, 2012

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 6

(5) Anonymous, June 5, 2012 2:12 PM

I agree with the commentors that Madonna is praiseworthy for coming to Israel

in face of the strong anti-Israel bigotry in Hollywood. But still, the PR gain for Israel is definitely not worth the tsunami of immorality that accompanies such a woman into our holy land of Israel.

(4) Moishe Montreal, June 4, 2012 6:16 PM

YES we want Madonna in Israel

With all the anti-semetic coward artists cancelling their shows in Israel due to fear of death from a-rubs, Madona shows stregnth and (here it comes) a love of Israel. Some of her Kaballah learning, traif as it is, has to have rub off in a positive way. Chazak to Madonna. PS its just a rock show and there are many worse influences in Israel today- like the atheist lefties.

(3) Lisa, June 4, 2012 3:51 PM

In defense of Madonna.

I would submit that Madonna has done more to present Israel and Judaism in a positive light- and reverse knee-jerk Israel-hatred and Jew-hatred- than any other one person, or private or public entity in recent times. To refer to her as "the lowest element of Western society" is to engage in ignorant, self-righteous, slander. Madonna's "art"- music, lyrics, choreography, costumes and concert themes have been in evolution for decades. She's a class A humanitarian advocating peace and understanding between all people, love of spirituality, celebration of sexuality, independence of thought and strength of character. As a woman, I don't feel demeaned by her colorful (and accurate) presentation of female sexuality one iota. While Orthodox Jews scoff at her interest in Kabbalah or taking the moniker "Sarah", her interest is sincere, and has created incalculable goodwill towards Jews, Judaism and Israel.

(2) Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale, June 4, 2012 3:42 PM

Is the glass half full or...?

My dear colleague, Shraga, I must respectfully disagree with the message of your blog. The simple fact of the matter is that Madonna is one of, if not the biggest names in entertainment today. Her place in the music industry is along the lines of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Michael Jackson. The lack of modesty of her performance notwithstanding, the fact that she has chosen Israel to kick off her world tour in a time when most other artists have pathetically bowed to pressure and boycotted Israel is a breath of fresh air and sends a powerful message to the world that Israel is not the pariah state that the Arabs and Palestinians would like it to be. And while you may trash her for her trashy image, she is one of the few entertainers that seeks some spirituality in her life through her pursuit of the study of Kabbalah and has backed it up with real actions such as adopting children from less fortunate circumstances. In a day and age when Israel’s friends are few and far between, rather than knocking her for the obvious why not celebrate the fact that of all the nations large and small, she chose Israel to begin her world tour? Kol Hakavod to her and for that alone I am a fan. Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale Aish South Florida

Gerald Lynch, June 5, 2012 7:49 AM


Israel is indeed in a sorry state that they need a purveyor of trash to garner a little bit of positive publicity. If the authorities had the courage to tell her they in no way approve of her trashing God's values perhaps Israel would have got the publicity for the right reasons. USA exports trash like no other and madoona is a prime example of all that is rotten in the American entertainment industry. Israel is deserving and capable of so much better. And 40,000 trashees paid to listen to her?? What has become of the young, utter lack of respect for the values that Israel holds dear, and many brave ones have died to protect. And a Rabbi commending this insult. Seems he has forgotten his God's command not to worship the gods of the heathen. Following in step with the Iraelites of old, and will suffer the same consequences. Pity..Shalom.

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