* This dispatch is an update to the dispatch of September 15, 2004, sent prior to Madonna's visit to Israel for the Jewish New Year.
1. Jerusalem Post editorial, welcoming Madonna's visit
2. "Parliament forbids the entry of Madonna into Egypt." (Al Bawaba, Sept. 23, 2004)
3. "Egypt bans Madonna after Israel visit." (World Net Daily, Sept. 24, 2004)
4. "Egypt shuts its doors on Madonna." (Big News Network, Sept. 26, 2004)
5. "Madonna's midnight pilgrimage." (Western Mail, Wales, Sept. 20, 2004)
THE EGYPTIAN IDEA OF PEACE
[Note by Tom Gross]
The Egyptian parliament has barred pop star Madonna from entering Egypt because she visited Israel last week. It has sent instructions to Egyptian embassies abroad to deny any visa requests from Madonna. Madonna has in fact not made any indication that she wishes to visit Egypt.
Egypt is supposed to be at peace with Israel, and has received more than $50 billion in U.S. aid since singing a peace agreement with Israel in 1978. But the country routinely vilifies Israel and Jews in its media, broadcasts a televised version of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and has not stopped terrorists from building weapons smuggling tunnels into Palestinian-controlled territory. Weapons smuggled in from Egypt are then used to kill Israeli civilians.
RABBI ASHLAG MEETS MADONNA
Madonna's visit to Israel made headline news around the world. It included a trip to the grave of Kabbalist sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, a brief visit to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, and the arrest of her security guards after they hospitalized an over-zealous photographer working for the Associated Press and an Israeli photographer who had come to the AP's photographer aid. (I attach the story from the local Welsh media below as an example of how even faraway newspapers reported on Madonna's Israel visit.)
AS SAFE AS CENTRAL PARK
Madonna praised Israel during her trip and urged others to visit the country.
Wearing a low-cut dress with a black and white leopard pattern, Madonna told a 1,000-plus crowd at a dinner at a Tel Aviv hotel that she was hesitant at first to visit Israel, but "I realize now that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York, and I would like to emphasize the fact that I feel very safe and very welcome... I'd like to say how happy I am to be back in Israel. I promise not to stay away for another ten years." (Madonna was last in Israel in 1993 when she gave a concert.)
She added: "The people I have met here have one thing in common – they want to create peace in the world. They want to put an end to suffering. Most of all they want to put an end to hatred with no reason."
Contrary to Arab press reports, Madonna did meet various Palestinians, but she did sing with Palestinian star Amal Murkus at the David Intercontinental hotel in Tel Aviv.
BARBRA STREISAND HASN'T SUNG IN TEL AVIV RECENTLY
Madonna's visit follows the recent visit of other non-Jewish celebrities, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christopher Reeve (who praised Israeli spinal cord treatment advancements) and Whitney Houston (who called Israel "home").
Most American Jewish celebrity liberals, however, continue to stay away from Israel. See the dispatch of April 1, 2002, titled: Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand, Philip Roth, Daniel Libeskind: Where are you? and other previous dispatches on this list.
-- Tom Gross
Editorial (Extracts only)
The Jerusalem Post
September 20, 2004
"Madonna, despite her adoption of the name Esther and other Jewish trappings, does not claim to have converted to Judaism. Yet, at a time when anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are rampant, she is an open philo-Semite who has done more than many Jews, let alone Jewish entertainers, have done: visited Israel.
If Madonna were simply mindlessly joining the legions of the politically correct, she might have carefully parceled her time between Tel Aviv and Ramallah, or lent her name to common anti-Israel causes, such as opposition to our security fence.
Instead, she has come to Israel on a spiritual quest... Perhaps Madonna will lead some Jews and others astray and give a rich and sophisticated branch of Judaism a bad name. Perhaps, however, some of the many Jews and others who seek spirituality and community in other quarters, such as Eastern religions, will be inspired to explore what Judaism has to offer."
EGYPTIAN POLITICIANS DISCUSS MADONNA
Parliament forbids the entry of Madonna into Egypt
September 23, 2004
Egyptian Parliament members have submitted an order to Government demanding that American singer Madonna be prohibited from entering Egyptian soil. Parliament members also included a number of other international singers on their list of people forbidden from entering Egypt and called on all their embassies abroad to not grant any of them visas into Egypt or be allowed to shoot any of their music videos on Egyptian soil.
The demand came after Madonna announced that she will celebrate the Jewish New Years in Israel and that she had converted to Judaism. On a similar note Arab Parliament member, Ahmad Al Taibi, in the Israeli Knesset turned down an invitation from Madonna to an event she held after she showed inconsideration for the sufferings of Palestinians, especially children, under the occupation of Israeli soldiers.
Ahmad had stressed that he wished the singer would try and learn from other international stars like Richard Gere and Julie Christie who came to the occupied lands and showed their support for the suffering of Palestinians.
Madonna had announced that she has changed her name, which has become a marker throughout her career, and now demands to be called by her new Jewish name Esther.
The singer, who has adopted the Jewish sector "Kabbalah", revealed that she has become so affected by her religion that she felt she must change her name to go with her belief. The well known Material Girl was named after her mother who died when the singer was young and said she wanted to be attached to the "energy" of a new name.
During an interview in the United States, the Catholic born singer said that since following the teachings of the Jewish mystical faith Kabbalah – whose principles she said were very "punk rock" and anti-establishment – Madonna has learned to follow new directions.
Adopted by gurus of popular culture, the Kabbalah, an ancient Hebrew mystical system of thought, embodies the mystical side of Judaism and teaches one to embrace small sparks of daily experiences and the seemingly insignificant moments of life. Madonna stressed that she will not answer to her old name and will only accept being Called Esther from now on. One of the key changes to date has been her name, "I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to another name."
EGYPT BANS MADONNA AFTER ISRAEL VISIT
Egypt bans Madonna after Israel visit
Cairo's exclusion order seen as routine vilification of Jewish state
By Aaron Klein
September 24, 2004
Egypt has issued an order barring pop star Madonna from entering the country because she visited Israel.
Members of Egypt's parliament have demanded Madonna, who has not requested entry into Egypt or announced any plans to visit the country, be barred from entering Egyptian soil. The parliament directed Egyptian embassies abroad to deny any visa requests from Madonna.
The demand comes after Madonna, aka Esther, visited the Jewish state last week making daily headline news with midnight trips to a Jewish cemetery, a quick drive by past the Wailing Wall, and even the arrest of her security detail.
The Material Girl praised Israel during her trip and urged people to visit the country.
Madonna said she was hesitant at first to tour the Holy Land, but upon her arrival, she said she realized "that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York, and I would like to emphasize the fact that I feel very safe and very welcome. ... I'd like to say how happy I am to be back in Israel. I promise not to stay away for another ten years." The singer was last in Israel for a 1993 concert.
Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, was not surprised by Egypt's decision, and called on the U.S. to speak out against Egypt's anti-Israel actions. "America has plenty of leverage with Egypt," Klein told WorldNetDaily.
Egypt has received more than $50 billion in U.S. aid since singing a peace agreement with Israel in 1978, but the country routinely vilifies Israel in its media, has not stopped terrorists from building weapons smuggling tunnels into Palestinian territory, and has suspended formal relations with Israel.
WorldNetDaily recently exposed the publication of a two-part series in Egypt's newspaper that denied the Holocaust and claimed Jews invented "lies of genocide" to extort the West and make possible the establishment of the Jewish state.
EGYPT SHUTS ITS DOORS ON MADONNA
Egypt shuts its doors on Madonna
Big News Network.com
September 26, 2004
Madonna's recent visit to Israel has cost her any chance of entering Egypt, something she has no plans to do.
Worldnetdaily.com reports that the Egyptian government issued an order denying the pop star entry and ordering its embassies abroad to deny any visa request.
Madonna has become a devotee of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah, and adopted the Hebrew name Esther. In Israel last week, she attended a conference on Kabbalah and visited the grave of one of the movement's sages.
Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1978. But the relationship between the countries remains strained
THE WESTERN MAIL REPORTS ON THE WESTERN WALL
Madonna's midnight pilgrimage
The Western Mail (Wales)
September 20, 2004
Pop diva Madonna made a midnight pilgrimage to a Jerusalem cemetery yesterday, holding a mystical candlelit ceremony at the grave of a Jewish sage.
The singer is in Israel on a five-day spiritual quest along with 2,000 other students of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.
Following her graveside visit, Madonna went to the Western Wall, a part of Judaism's holiest site where the biblical temples once stood.
The arrival of Israel's biggest celebrity visitor in years has created a frenzy among her fans and the media, but others have been critical of the star's interest in the esoteric Jewish mysticism.
Madonna was raised a Roman Catholic, but she has become an avid devotee of Jewish mysticism in recent years. She has adopted the Hebrew name Esther, wears a red thread on her wrist to ward off the evil eye, and reportedly refuses to perform on the Jewish Sabbath.
Israeli media reported yesterday that Madonna had also requested "kosher" meals, or food that meets Jewish dietary regulations.
There were no screaming fans waiting for Madonna as she arrived at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery, flanked by black-clad police escorts, assault rifles slung over their shoulders – just long rows of dark graves.
The blue and red revolving lights of the patrol cars cast an eerie glow over the terraced, hillside graveyard as Madonna and husband, Guy Ritchie, walked past the tombstones to the grave of the Kabbalist sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag.
Television footage showed Ritchie upset at the media presence, and later Madonna negotiated with the media, telling them, "If you give us five minutes alone we'll allow you to take a picture".
Polish-born Ashlag is the renowned author of the Sulam, (The Ladder), a commentary on the core Kabbalistic text, the Zohar. He died in 1954.
Madonna, wearing jeans, a black and grey checked sweater with a matching cap and a large diamond-encrusted letter E on a chain to symbolise her new name, spent more than an hour inside the stone mausoleum, placing candles on the tomb, praying and chanting.