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Eurovision scolds Madonna for Palestinian flag display

In this Aug. 20, 2018 file photo, Madonna presents a tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Eurovision Song Contest organizers said on Sunday they were taken aback by the display of a Palestinian flag during Madonna's guest appearance, which defied contest rules.

While Madonna performed her new single at the contest, hosted in Tel Aviv, two of her dancers onstage flashed Israeli and Palestinian flags pinned on their backs.

The European Broadcast Union, or EBU, said that Madonna had not cleared that part of the act with broadcasters and "was advised as to the non-political nature of the event."

Madonna later defended the stunt on Twitter, sharing a clip of the dancers and writing, "I am grateful for the opportunity to spread the message of peace and unity with the world."

Yet most reactions to Madonna's performance had nothing to do with her political gesture. Many panned her for singing off key.

Canadian-Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams paid over $1 million to bring Madonna in for the event.

EBU also said it is considering "consequences" for Iceland's performers, who whipped out a Palestinian flag during the vote tally.

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