Madge Back In Israel

On a previous visit she managed to unite both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict in protest against her five-day pilgrimage to study Kabbalah, but Madonna may court less controversy when she returns to Israel for the final dates of her Sticky & Sweet tour.

Shuki Weiss, who promoted the first show on the ill-fated Depeche Mode tour, has announced the final shows of Madge’s 2009 run will be at the Yehoshua Gardens in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park Sept. 1-2.

“I’m very excited about returning to Israel for my last and final show. I know it will be unforgettable,” the diva reportedly said, although there are several reasons why it could turn out to be unforgettable.

In 2004, when she visited Israel to study her then new-found religion, Palestinians accused her of ignoring their suffering while Orthodox Jews labeled her religiously insensitive. It seems the only people happy to see her were the local tourist board.

More than 1,000 police officers serving in one of the most demanding security environments in the world were drafted in to protect the singer, her family and more than 2,000 participants from the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre.

Her schedule included stops at 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 the West Bank town of Bethlehem), which angered Palestinians because the tomb is in an Israeli-occupied zone.

“Rachel’s Tomb has become a symbol of our misery. What they are doing when they come here to the tomb is endorsing the misery,” Michel Nasser, a Palestinian leader of Bethlehem’s Christian community, told the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph. “Madonna can come and go to this shrine but I cannot even get out of Bethlehem to go to the churches in Jerusalem. These people are naive. They probably will not meet Palestinians here and they see things only from one side.”

The Bethlehem shrine had been a flashpoint during the Palestinian uprisings. It was surrounded by huge slabs of concrete within a military compound, with watchtowers, razor wire and sniper positions nearby.