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Madonna brings the Middle East together – in anger

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Diplomats have trying to unite both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict for years, but it only took Madonna one trip to Israel. Orthodox Jews and Palestinians are incensed by her five-day pilgrimage to practise her new-found faith, Kabbalah, an ancient form of Jewish mysticism.
The pop singer arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and planned to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the northern city of Safed, a centre of Kabbalah, and Rachel’s Tomb, the traditional burial place of the biblical matriarch, in Bethlehem.
Palestinians have accused her of ignoring their suffering, while Orthodox Jews have labelled her as religiously insensitive.
More than 1000 police officers serving in one of the most demanding security environments have been drafted in to protect Madonna, her family and more than 2000 participants from the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre for one of the biggest worldwide gatherings of Kabbalists.
Madonna has adopted the Hebrew name Esther, a biblical heroine who saved the Israelites, and reportedly refuses to perform on the Sabbath.
This is just the latest incarnation of the Catholic-born New Yorker – she has moved from “material girl” to sex goddess to yoga devotee and children’s author. But she insists her faith is serious and not a celebrity fad.
Her trip has been overshadowed by controversy, particularly over Rachel’s Tomb. The shrine has been a flashpoint during the Palestinian uprising. It is surrounded by huge slabs of concrete in a military compound, with watchtowers, razor wire and sniper positions nearby.
The Israeli Government has been building its security barrier close to the tomb, and Palestinians living in the area have accused the authorities of forcing them from their homes and of using the shrine to annex land under the guise of security.
Israeli peace activists turned out at Rachel’s Tomb on Wednesday to voice their concerns that Madonna’s visit to the shrine might be used to legitimise Israel’s occupation. They carried banners that read “Rachel’s Tomb, Madonna, is a new settlement” and “It’s the occupation, Madonna”.
Angela Godfrey Goldstein, an activist with an Israeli women’s peace group, said: “We hope she will not ignore the real victims, who are the Palestinians.”
source : smh.com.au

Madonna Ends Reinvention Tour On High Note

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Madonna wrapped her Reinvention tour last night (Sept. 14) with the second of two sellouts at the Pavilhao Atlantico in Lisbon, Portugal.
The tour, destined to be the top-grossing trek of 2004, grossed $124.5 million and played to 880,000 people, according to producers.
The tour was produced worldwide by Clear Channel Entertainment’s touring division. “Madonna’s Reinvention tour was a brilliant success on every level,” Arthur Fogel, president of CCE Touring, tells Billboard.biz.
Madonna was particularly hot in the U.K, where she grossed $9.8 million from four sellouts at Wembley Arena in London, $6.3 million from two sellouts at Earls Court in London and $5.1 million from two sellouts at the Manchester Evening News in Manchester, England.
Reinvention’s North American run was topped by six sellouts at New York’s Madison Square Garden that grossed $12.7 million; she also took in $7.9 million from four sellouts at the United Center in Chicago, $7 million from two sellouts at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, $7 million from three sellouts at the Forum in L.A. and $6.4 million from four sellouts at the Centrum in Worcester.
source : billboard.com

An Open Letter to Madonna – Please Say No to Apartheid

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On behalf of Israeli Jews, and Palestinian or Israeli Christians and Muslims seriously opposed to your highly controversial visit, we ask you, with compassion, to reconsider the consequences of coming to Israel/Palestine in this context.
This visit takes you to the heart of Occupied Territory in Bethlehem: a closed-off prison, a ghetto, whose civilians now have no work, no freedom, no life. They’ve finished their savings, live now on food handouts from foreign donor agencies. They’ve had their land taken, they have no justice through the courts, this entire city of ordinary folk trying to live a decent life, is imprisoned, while Israel calls the shots.
The International Court of Justice ruled the Wall and settlements illegal. In Bethlehem, the Wall annexes Rachel’s Tomb (a Muslim Mosque, too, with a Muslim cemetery nearby and a Christian site), in yet another Israeli land grab. Where you will be, at Rachel’s Tomb, is Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Wall, the Checkpoint right there, Border Police and army based there keep Palestinians locked in prison. Three million Palestinians are under full closure for the entire month of Jewish High Holidays. All to ensure further settlement development. At all times, they can’t get out. They’ll even have to pray at Rachel’s Tomb checkpoint, instead of their own Jerusalem holy site, Al Aqsa Mosque, at Ramadan next month, like last year.
In the last four years, we’ve killed five times more of their children, three times more of their civilians, than the Palestinians have killed Israeli kids or civilians. We’ve taken their homes, land and villages, dignity, work. Bethlehem is a ghetto, with no work, and look–you a tourist–are you going to the Christian sites in the centre of Bethlehem?
All this is about apartheid, separation, and yet more abuse of power, causing the terror / resistance. The whole area’s been turned into a fortress, not a holy site, from which Israeli forces shot and killed unarmed Palestinian kids at the beginning of the Intifada. Does warlike aggression speak of spirituality? Rachel’s Tomb is descending into the darkness of rip-off, very far from LIGHT.
Next to Rachel’s Tomb is Ayda Refugee Camp–whose 5,000 hostages have been stuck there for years, forbidden to return to their homes in Israel. What about all the refugees rotting in camps in Lebanon and Syria, who pray to return home?
As a world figure, an international leader, a Christian and follower of Kabbalah, we ask you to do a reality check. Are you being used to legitimise the Occupation of Palestine? Are you being exploited, without your full awareness? Has your wish to bring peace been co-opted by other forces?
Madonna. Esther. We pray you’ll find the strength to set the example artists in the past have set. A spiritual role. One remembers apartheid South Africa, civil rights. Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson was here last month, on such a mission.
It would be good if you speak up. To take up the cause of the dispossessed. To be a voice for the mute, the dumb, the hopeless weak. The underdog.
By saying no. No to apartheid. No to colonial landaholic land-grabs, that hide behind a “spiritual” pose. And lose all humanity, and stir up war, in doing so. Say no. Say no. Say no. Say no. Say no. One little word. The liberating: No.
In peace. (I hope we may meet to talk)
source : counterpunch.org

Material-Turned-Spiritual Madonna Visits Israel

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Pop idol Madonna, fresh from her acclaimed “Re-Invention” tour, began a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel on Wednesday to practice her newfound faith in the mystical Jewish Kabbalah.
But the Catholic-bred singer’s journey is likely to raise controversy among some ultra-Orthodox Jews afraid the growing popularity of the movement among non-Jews is nothing more than a trend that demeans their religious beliefs.
Madonna, who recently adopted the Hebrew name Esther and wears a trademark Kabbalah red string on her wrist, has said she is serious about her belief in Jewish mysticism and irritated by accusations her faith is nothing more than a celebrity fad.
Yet for many of her fellow followers of Kabbalah, or at least those congregating around Judaism’s Western Wall, the litmus test will be just how much fabric the “Material Girl” wears — over her arms, shoulders and legs.
“She should dress modestly instead of showing off her body,” commented one woman selling books about the Kabbalah near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews frown upon women wearing pants, let alone the raunchy, anatomically exaggerated bustiers and fishnet stockings synonymous with a Madonna concert.
Madonna’s arrival aboard a private jet after sundown, the eve of the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana, contradicted religious law forbidding motorized transport on holy days.
Madonna, whose itinerary was kept under wraps for security reasons, was expected to celebrate the holiday at a luxury hotel in Tel Aviv with about 2,000 fellow Kabbalists from the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center.
Event organizers had requested journalists wear white and discouraged them from taking photographs or jotting down notes, as writing or using electronics is prohibited on high holidays according to traditional Jewish law.
Pop star Britney Spears, who exchanged an intimate kiss with Madonna at an MTV awards show, and Hollywood actress Demi Moore are also followers of Kabbalah although neither will be joining Madonna in Israel.
source : reuters.com

Madonna denies marital paradise has some thorns

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Could Madonna’s marriage be in trouble? Total denials on that front from her people, but sources close to the Material Mom hint that the superstar’s obsession with the mystical Jewish teachings of Kabbalah are carving a chasm between Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie.
”Guy really is not into Kabbalah at all and he’s increasingly concerned at how it’s taking over Madonna’s life,” a longtime British filmmaking pal of Ritchie’s told this column Monday. ”This is really a weird sect, and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it,” said the Ritchie friend and colleague.
At this point, it’s unclear whether the director of such edgy films as ”Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” will even join his wife in Israel for special Kabbalah celebrations later this week — tied to the upcoming Jewish holidays.
A spokeswoman for Madonna played down rumors of any marital rift. ”There are no problems. There is no rift, as you call it. Everything is absolutely fine between Madonna and Guy.”
source : suntimes.com

Madonna wraps up tour in Portugal

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Madonna’s three-month world tour ends on Tuesday with her final concert in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
Tickets for two gigs on 13 and 14 September sold out within hours but problems arose after the venue was double-booked by a church convention.
The matter was resolved and two dates were confirmed at the 12,000 seater Atlantic Pavillion.
Hundreds of Spanish fans were expected to attend the gigs after the pop star left Spain off her tour plan.
source : bbc.co.uk

How to succed like a rock star

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A special gathering to get Barrow’s young people interested in running businesses will be told that entrepreneurs are like rock stars.
Emma Jones of Manchester business consultants Redbrick, which is masterminding the Local Heroes event with Furness Enterprise, said: “Rock stars like Madonna and Franz Ferdinand also possess those qualities necessary for enormous success: talent, initiative and determination. Entrepreneurs then are not unlike rock stars.”
“They require the same attributes in order to succeed in the business world and often enjoy the same rewards goodles of money and varying degrees of fame, and all without intrusive tabloid press and early graves.”
On Wednesday October 20 some of the brightest stars of Barrow business will share their start-up stories and tips with Barrow’s hopeful young entrepreneurs.
Furness Enterprise is hiring the entire Barrow Superbowl for two hours. The speakers will be joined by live musicians, fashion designers and film producers.
Young people aged between 14 and 25 are invited to attend.
If you have ever dreamt of being a millionaire wake up, log on to www.furnessenterprise.co.uk/localheroes and register for your ticket.
source : nwemail.co.uk

Interview with Chris Lamb

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Chris Lamb, the Tour Director for the eagerly-awaited Madonna: The Re-Invention Tour, has worked for the superstar for nearly twenty years, virtually since she burst onto the worldwide scene with Holiday. He believes that the current show is “probably her best ever. It’s a genuinely amazing show.”
Chris, who also works with Rod Stewart, The Eagles and Roger Waters on their tours, remembers that he began working on this with Madonna, her manager and tour director, Jamie King back in January.
“Madonna herself and the tour director come up with the concept and the ideas. My job is to figure out how to do it! We’re doing things that people have never done before with this show.
“It’s a show,” he emphasises, “people aren’t coming here to a rock concert. This is more like a theatre show, with different acts to it. You don’t even have to be a Madonna fan to enjoy this show.
“There’s a whole world happening, with hundreds of elements,” he says of the over two-hour performance, in which the world’s biggest-selling female solo artist ever will be performing over twenty of her greatest hits, including Vogue, Into The Groove, Holiday, Like A Prayer, Material Girl, Music, Express Yourself and Papa Don’t Preach.
It’s so fantastically eleborate that Chris and his crew began setting up on Wednesday for the shows. Nonetheless, despite the fact that almost all of the show’s staging, including state-of-the-art video technology, has been custom-built at a cost which, Chris hints, runs into the millions, it will never be seen again after the last European date in Lisbon on September 14.
“Madonna’s probably the most tirelessly inventive person I’ve ever known, and she has absolutely no interest in repeating herself. I suspect you might be seeing some parts of our show in other people’s shows for a while, though,” chuckles Chris, who has worked in the rock world for more than thirty years, since starting out with Leon Russell “back in the days when things were really wild.”
The show, which now involves 110 people travelling on the road including 12 dancers, 5 musicians, 2 backing singers, a bagpipe player, a skateboarder, and Cirque du Soleil swingers, was rehearsed for six weeks solidly before the public was allowed to see it.
The stage itself, weighing 40 tons on its own, can revolve in all sorts of directions (at up to sixteen miles an hour, which would surely test the balance of the most skilled dancers!) and there are all manner of high-tech contraptions which can raise – or even spring! – performers into the air.
“Madonna is on stage the whole time, this is not one of those shows where the performer vanishes all the time to change their costume. If you can’t actually see her, she’s quick-changing for a different scene,” he discloses.
“It’s a very artistic show. If you asked me to pick a favourite of all her tours, and I’ve worked on pretty much all of them, I’d say this one for sure. The other show which I personally thought was the only one which came close to this one is the Blonde Ambition tour.
“People keep saying that she’s re-inventing herself, but she also re-invents the show. She shows people things they’ve never seen before and it’s been that way over the years, that’s why people are fascinated and excited by what she does. Every one of her shows really has been a kind of reflection of her, it’s pretty much where she is in her life.”
But can she keep on topping the last tour, as she apparently does with this show, certainly if the preparations I saw are anything to go by?
“I don’t know,” Chris admits. “She’s so creative and she’s such a perfectionist that she always comes up with something fresh and different.
“When she’s on that stage, even though there’s a hundred things happening, she’ll know just what a dancer has been doing, which is amazing.
“She’s a hard-working lady who has astounding powers of concentration and puts herself heart and soul into whatever she’s doing.”
source : manchesteronline.co.uk

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