“I will bless those who bless you.” (Genesis 12:3)
Pop star Justin Timberlake defied calls to boycott Israel and performed at HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv before an audience of 44,000 Israeli fans on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), a national holiday that celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem.
In a country where the average monthly family income is about $2,000 and gasoline and Big Macs sell for twice of what they cost in the States, the cheapest seats went for $106 and up to $415 (about half of a monthly salary) for a seat close to the stage. (HaAretz)
Timberlake, who is a former member of the successful boy band ‘N Sync, managed to raise the ire of his Palestinian fans on Tuesday when he posted a photo of himself at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on social media, which he gave the hashtag #Israel and captioned—“What an experience. I will never forget this day.”
Within two hours, the Instagram post had received close to 150,000 likes. The response was not all positive, however. One Instagram user responded, “There was never an Israel, this was always Palestine.”
Another comment stated: “FYI, it’s called #PALESTINE.”
Timberlake has not commented on the negative response.
Timberlake is loved in Israel for his talent and appreciated for his willingness to disregard the BDS boycott that has gone to the point of threatening performers with severe economic loss if they visit Israel.
Notwithstanding such pressures, he has included Israel as a part of his current world tour. Such support has led farmers in Israel to name a new melon after him, citing its sweetness, like the singer, and long shelf life, which they wish the performer as well.
The “Justin” is a cantaloupe-like melon that is yellow on the outside and orange inside. Developed by Ein Yahav agriculturists at the Arava Desert agricultural station in the south of the country, the melon will be available locally and overseas in Europe and the US, but not until September. That’s too bad because Justin had given his local producers specific instructions regarding his dressing room requirements, and they included a bowl of fruit with, of course, melon. (Israel21)
Timberlake is only the first of many artists that will be performing this summer in Israel. The Backstreet Boys, as a part of their reunion world tour, will be performing in three sold-out performances in late July.
A June 4th Rolling Stones concert is already sold out. (Times of Israel)
Such performers are following a trend set by several famous names over the last months, including Julio Iglesias, who performed in Tel Aviv last year and reflected on his own Jewish roots.
“There were lots of conversations in my house about the Inquisition and about Sephardim,” said Iglesias. “My mother’s name—de la Cueva y Perignat—was a very Jewish name.” (Jewish Voice NY)
Welsh crooner Tom Jones received a petition from 2,000 Palestinians pleading for him to stay away from Israel.
“I think entertainers should entertain.” Jones said in response. “They should go wherever; there shouldn’t be any restrictions. That’s why I went there. I did two shows in Tel Aviv and it was fantastic.”
“I live in Los Angeles and over there the Jewish community does much for charity,” he said. “Of course I’m from Great Britain and I started seeing Jewish charities firsthand in the 60s. I’ve always been supportive.” (Jewish News)
Other celebrities who have recently defied the boycott to entertain Israel are Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Cyndi Lauper. Paula Abdul celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in Safed, Israel last November, and Jay Leno emceed the first Genesis Prize this month. (Arutz 7)
“I love Israel. That’s why I’m here,” Leno said.