Controversy over shaking Israeli athletes hands made news during the Olympics – but the end of the Games hasn’t stopped online storms over Arabs “legitimising” the Jewish State.
Yesterday, pictures began circulating online of Tunisian singer Saber Rebai posing with an IDF soldier. In a report by Al Arabi Al Jadeed, Rebai’s media officer confirmed the soldier was an Arabic speaker and member of the Israeli Druze population – a group that many identify as Palestinian, but who also maintain a strong loyalty to Israel.
Rebai had been performing a concert in the Palestinian territories when the damning pic was snapped – and his fan base in the Arab world was less than pleased. Some Palestinians object to artists even travelling to the West Bank, because it requires the approval of Israeli authorities – which many believe should be boycotted entirely.
@rebaisaber للأسف يا صابر انضحك عليك هدول الضباط بوهموك انهوم فلسطينية بس هدول بكونو دروز من الي بخدمو بجيش الاحتلال دير بالك لمرات جاي— The 11th (@MYPS97) 22 August 2016
Unfortunately, Saber Rebai, the officer is mocking you. Druze are Palestinians but they serve in the army of occupation. Be careful next time.
The controversy was intensified when COGAT – the Israeli government authority in the West Bank – tweeted a picture of Rebai.
Saber Rebai is all smiles in the presence of the army of the Israeli occupation. Now you see the problem of Arab artists visiting Palestine.
The bad publicity forced Rebai to take action. Earlier today, he published a press release stressing his support for the Palestinian cause, and claiming the photograph with the Druze officer had been taken simply out of politeness. He stated that he refused to talk with Israelis – and was in solidarity with Arab causes.
However, the response wasn’t all negative. Some tweeters said they were supportive of Saber – regardless of the circumstances of the photo.
@rebaisaber تحياتنا لك استاذ صابر الرباعي ولا غبار على عروبتك ووطتيتك في ظل ظروف تشرذم فيها كل العرب تحياني لك— lebnenonline (@lebnenonline) 22 August 2016
We support you, Mr. Saber Rebai. And don’t diminish your Arabness or patriotism. In light of what happened, all the Arabs support you.
Regardless, certain pop stars – and those hoping to shake hands with them - might want to exercise more caution over pictures in the future. After all, a picture says-and perhaps sings-a thousand words.
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