Far-right commentators and Israel supporters rejoiced last week when it was announced that the Rolling Stones would play two concerts in Israel—the first to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day, and the second to spite the BDS movement.
Except it wasn’t true.
On February 24, for the Purim holiday, The Jewish Press published a hoax entitled “Defying Boycotts, Jagger, Stones, to Honor Israel’s 65th Birthday.” According to the fabricated story, the Rolling Stones had scheduled a concert in Jerusalem to honor Israeli Independence Day on Monday, April 15. After being “slammed and smacked and twittered a lot by the anti-Israeli side,” said Mick Jagger supposedly, the band “decided to add a concert on Tuesday” in response.
The article then cited Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, a known proponent of BDS, as saying, “This is a huge mistake for the Stones…They stand to lose a lot of money as a result of showing solidarity with Zionism, because their most devoted fans also support boycotting Israel.”
Accompanying the story was a Photoshopped image of the band with Keith Richards holding the Israeli seal.
The article concluded with the following line:
This has been a Purim prank…
Nevertheless the story spread across right-wing outlets as fact. It was reported in Joshuapundit by right-wing commentator Robert Miller, who summarized the story under the headline “Rolling Stones To Israel haters: ‘Up Yours.’”
From there, it made its way to Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs on February 26, under the headline:
ROLLING STONES TELL JEW-HATERS TO KISS THEIR ……. ADDS ANOTHER DATE TO ISRAEL TOUR ON ISRAEL INDEPENDENCE DAY
Geller excerpted a portion of Miller’s posting, and added her own commentary:
It is so delicious to see very cool people standing against savagery, thuggery and injustice. I’d [sic] wish I could get to Jerusalem just to see this show.
Geller’s own story was accompanied by a different Photoshopped image—one that seems to have circulated among French websites—in which Keith Richards is holding an Israeli flag.
Just a few hours after publishing the post, Geller changed the headline to
ROLLING STONES TELL JEW-HATERS TO KISS THEIR ……./NOT!
And she amended her post with a preface:
UPDATE: Alas, this was a good Purim joke. The Jewish Press just just [sic] being silly. Will the Stones ever make their maiden voyage to Israel?
Atlas reader George was the first to guess what I was up to here. So many Atlas readers sent this in to me. I put it up without revealing initially that it was a joke to emphasize a simple point: why is a story like this so unheard-of as to be unbelievable? How has our culture so degenerated as to make it virtually inconceivable that our most renowned entertainers would stand with the only beacon of freedom in the Middle East? The Rolling Stones and every other big act SHOULD play Israel, and proudly. That they instead condemn Israel along with the rest of the left is a disgrace.
Thus—essentially saying, “I was testing you”—Geller pretended to be in on the joke. However, there are several reasons why this is implausible:
1. Geller acknowledged that it was a Purim joke. But by the time of she had posted her story on February 26, Purim was already over. It would be like making an April Fool’s joke on April 2.
2. Geller didn’t quote directly from the original Jewish Press article but instead based her post on Robert Miller’s Joshuapundit article. To this day, Miller appears unaware that the story is a hoax and his post stands uncorrected. There is no indication that Geller had seen the original article in The Jewish Press before she posted.
3. Despite claiming that she was proving a clever point, Geller later removed the posting from her website and also deleted her tweet referencing it. What’s the point of making a point and then deleting all references to the point?
So instead, Geller blamed the situation on her readers (“So many Atlas readers sent this in to me”), claimed she was conducting a social experiment as a comment on the “degenerat[ion]” of “our culture,” and then pretended that her posting never existed.
Geller: “Just joshing! Happy Day After Purim!”
And despite initially praising the Rolling Stones as “very cool people” and posting a link to the song “Moves Like Jagger,” she soon amended her post to denounce the Rolling Stones for “condemn[ing] Israel along with the rest of the left.”
Unfortunately the story doesn’t end with Geller. On March 1—five days after the original Jewish Press article was published—JNS.org, a Jewish wire news service, picked up the story. From there, the reliably unreliable Algemeiner printed JNS’s version of the story.
The Algemeiner later deleted their article with no correction or acknowledgment of error, but a tweet referencing the article remains.
By now, the fake Rolling Stones story has a life of its own, with Tea Partiers and Zionists rejoicing in the epic BDS fail that never was, and perhaps some in Israel are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Stones on Israel Independence Day.
All of this would be funny if not for the fact that The Jewish Press used the Purim excuse to smear Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb in its hoax piece. As a result, where this story has appeared, commenters have attacked Gottlieb with sexist and Islamophobic insults. This is nothing new for Gottlieb, who was recently subjected to a smear campaign by the Republican Jewish Coalition in an attempt to discredit Barack Obama.
In a French-language Israeli website reporting on the fake Rolling Stones story, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb is described as “the woman ‘rabbi,’ pro-Palestinian and pro-Iranian.”
The story of the runaway Purim story is about how right-wing and Zionist media outlets fool each other into believing what they want to hear. But it’s not limited to Purim and to stories that are explicitly labeled as fake.
Even stories in The Jewish Press that are considered serious are full of lies, such as an investigative report suggesting that the only Jews allowed to attend the recent Brooklyn College BDS event were those from “Naturie Karta” [sic]:
And the Algemeiner doesn’t even bother to remove, correct, or update most articles that have been disproven, such as its perpetuation of Chuck Hagel’s “Friends of Hamas” connection:
To conclude, I leave you with perhaps the strangest response yet to the fake Rolling Stones anti-BDS story—a video that was posted on the Islamophobic website Bare Naked Islam. It is so gloating in its misinformed triumph that it must be viewed all the way to the end: