The Israeli-Canadian tycoon funding Madonna’s forthcoming appearance at Eurovision in Tel Aviv has said she will be “rock solid” in the face of boycott calls
Sylvan Adams, who spent $20 million to bring the Giro d’Italia, the world’s second biggest bike race, to Israel last year, told Jewish News that the A-lister “knows Israel” and won’t pay any attention to those urging her to reconsider.
“I’d advise the boycotters to get a history lesson,” he said. “They call us colonialists, but the guy who built Jerusalem was a fellow by the name of King David. The homeland of the Jews has been so for 3,500 years.”
Madonna would not cave in to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, he said. “The haters are going to hate. They’re in their boiler-room, tweeting. They make a lot of noise. But Madonna will be rock solid. She’ll stand firm. She knows whatever they’re writing just isn’t true.”
Adams, who is reported to have paid Madonna $1 million to perform two songs at the interval of the world’s biggest song contest next month, has form when it comes to what he calls “bringing the world to Israel” – not long after he made aliyah in 2015, he brought the renowned Giro d’Italia bike race to the country.
He said it showed “Israel unfiltered, from Akko in the north to Eilat in the south… It was beamed to a billion people on TV, and I like to think of it as us having a billion first-time visitors to Israel”.
Adams said he moved to Israel because it is “beautiful, tolerant and democratic”, adding: “I’m working on creating a very large endowment fund that will enable a constant flow of large sporting, cultural or scientific events emanating from Israel or coming to Israel, so we will be able to tell our story over and over again.”
He said: “I believe in engaging with the world in a non-polemical fashion, just showing our true nature. Israel has a big heart, with welcoming people. We’re open to the world. We’d like to be perceived not through the lens of the haters but as a normal Western country. ”
Adams accompanied the Israeli national cycling team in Qatar in 2016 and said the delegation was accepted, which he sees as becoming “the norm” within the Muslim world. “I think sport is leading the way. It shows the public in these Muslim nations that their governments accept Israelis, so how bad can Israelis really be?”
One reason he put millions into Israel’s moon quest was to inspire young Israelis to study science and technology He is passionate about seeing more students in Israel from under-represented sections of Israeli society, particularly Muslim women.
“I made a substantial endowment to two permanent Rhodes scholarships in Israel and, last year, an Israeli Arab woman was one of our two recipients,” he says with pride. “It was the same this year, another Israeli Arab woman. It’s one way we as philanthropists can help.”