Pro-Israel blog removes photo of Alicia Keys meeting soldiers’ supporter

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Keys
Alicia Keys, left, with Rachel Greenberg, who is connected to Thank Israeli Soldiers.

For supporters of Israel, the news couldn’t have been better: mega-pop star Alicia Keys not only played Tel Aviv on July 4, but she met with an organization called Thank Israeli Soldiers. The group puts together lectures for Israeli soldiers, delivers care packages and organizes “weekend experiences” for soldiers in Jerusalem’s Old City. 

Or was it news? The original blog post by a blogger named “Aussie Dave” (see it here) celebrating Keys’ purported visit and calling it a rebuke to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was soon taken down with no explanation

Post removed

I ask anyone who may have replicated this post or the photo to please refrain from doing so.

So what happened? Here’s what I have been able to find out.

In early July, a woman named Rachel Feldhamer published the above photograph of Keys on her Facebook page. The picture was said to have been taken July 8 in the Old City in Jerusalem. the blog Israellycool.com, a pro-Israel website which relishes publishing “BDS Fail[s]”, soon trumpeted the news.

“I have it on good authority that the photo was taken in the old city of Jerusalem, at the Thank Israeli Soldiers office, a group that mostly sends care packages to, and hosts Shabbat meals for, IDF soldiers,” reported “Aussie Dave.” 

The other woman in the picture was clearly Rachel Greenberg. She appears multiple times in photos on the Thank Israeli Soldiers website.

Then the post mysteriously disappeared, with the message I quoted above. In a second comment on his blog that was also later removed, Aussie Dave wrote, “It was from Facebook and was genuine. I can’t go into details as to why I was asked to take it down, but I acceded to the request once I realize there was an issue.”

And in an e-mail to me, he said that “I was led to believe she visited there and then my source was told this was not the case. So I could not leave my post up… What I can tell you is I was under no pressure to pull it, not from Alicia Keys nor anyone connected with her. As much as I would have loved it to be true, once I was told my initial info was wrong, I had to pull the post for credibility’s sake.”

Keys’ PR team denied to me that any visit took place. A spokesperson for Keys said in an e-mail that “there was no planned visit with any group Israeli or Palestinian. While touring the region, Alicia was introduced to many people and graciously posed for photos with fans.”

But a source with direct knowledge of the visit told me that said that Keys didn’t just waltz into the office, that the visit came about when she saw advertisements for the group in Jerusalem, and wanted to check it out. The source also said that Greenberg works for the group, though I couldn’t confirm that independently. “She [Keys] was there. That’s a picture of her in the Claman house,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Abba and Pamela Claman run Thank Israeli Soldiers out of their home in the Old City of Jerusalem–where the photograph of Greenberg and Keys was taken, according to “Aussie Dave.” After the photo was published on Facebook, the source said that Greenberg’s job was threatened and that the organization asked Greenberg to get the photo taken down. I called Greenberg several times to try and get her version of events. She did not pick up her phone.

Thank Israeli Soldiers also denies that Keys visited its organization.

“It was a misrepresentation on somebody’s blog,” said an employee of Thank Israeli Soldiers, who refused to give her name and hung up after a five-minute conversation. “It’s not fair to put a star who’s on her own spiritual journey into a position of trying to make up stories about where she’s going and what she’s doing. So that’s all I have to say about it. It’s not true…Don’t write anything, there’s no story.”

Yes, move along now! The incident could only add further embarrassment to what was a controversial career move by the star. Keys’ visit to Israel attracted vociferous opposition from activists working in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) call. 

Thank Israeli Soldiers is not the kind of group that Keys needs on her facebook page. It is run by people connected with the Republican Party. Claman was at Mitt Romney’s Jerusalem fundraiser last July, which cost $25,000-$50,000 to attend. And on the board of Thank Israeli Soldiers is Cheryl Halpern, a former chairwoman of the Republican Jewish Coalition known for blasting National Public Radio’s coverage of Israel.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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21 Responses

  1. bilal a
    July 17, 2013, 9:23 am

    Not all Republicans support the Republican Jewish Coalition so I don’t see why Keyes has to blacklist the party.

    Indeed most of the opposition to Neocon agenda comes from libertarians and others on the right, not from the liberal left which is a mere fringe in the democratic party, at least if one evaluates its representation from talk at CNN and MSNBC.

    • Woody Tanaka
      July 17, 2013, 9:38 am

      Oh baloney. The Republican Party has fully supported the neocons and their policies for over a decade and it is only where the Obama moves away from those policies that the Republicans complain. the non-neocons in the GOP are the fringe.

      • Krauss
        July 17, 2013, 11:38 am

        Make a distinction between the neocons – which are an elite foisted upon the Republican party via the publishing barons like Murdoch(who owned the Weekly Standard for a long time) or Kristol’s friends who buy up the relevant media space and stack it with his friends – and the base.

        True, the GOP base loves the islamophobic red meat thrown at them, but if you look at polls for, say, going into Syria(which is favoured by nearly every neocon), it’s met with distinct cool from the base.

        For example, look at how Ron Paul was met with the sheer hate from supposed “in touch with the grassroots” websites and blogs from the right during the last campaign. He was very popular with young GOP activists. Hated by the neocon media class.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 17, 2013, 12:31 pm

        i think bilal’s comment is a distraction from the point. keyes showing up at the party does not indicate a neutral stance wrt the conflict, the occupation or anything. it’s a military support group, whether they are dems or republicans is secondary. the fact they are connected to the neocons who brought romney to israel..that’s kinda primary in my book.

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 17, 2013, 12:37 pm

        “Make a distinction between the neocons … and the base.”

        For what purpose? You’re talking personalities and I’m talking policies. The neocon policies are the accepted policies of the party. The top vote getters in the 2012 primary were on board with the program and the winner – the party standard bearer – had, as his foreign policy advisors, neocons like John Bolton and Robert Kagan and lesser-known neocons like Paula Dobriansky, Eliot Cohen, Robert Joseph, Eric Edelman and Dan Senor. This is the guy who the Party as a whole chose to represent it. I don’t see how you can seriously argue that the GOP isn’t the party of the neocons when the people the party keeps voting for are themselves neocons and are advised by neocons.

        “but if you look at polls for, say, going into Syria(which is favoured by nearly every neocon), it’s met with distinct cool from the base.”

        Under Obama. Would the numbers be higher if there was a “non-Communist, Muslim, Kenyan” in the presidency?? Well, about 60% think we should be attacking the Syrian government with drones and cruise missles, so the answer is probably yes.

        “For example, look at how Ron Paul was met with the sheer hate from supposed ‘in touch with the grassroots’ websites and blogs from the right during the last campaign. He was very popular with young GOP activists.”

        And never got more than about 1/5 of the vote, with the other 4/5 usually going to neocon politicians. Ron Paul was the exception that proved the rule. He had a very small and vocal following and the vast majority of the Republican Party rejected him. Usually because of his non-neocon views on foreign policy. They sure as hell weren’t rejecting him because of his racism. So what does that tell us? That the GOP is the neocon party. Not exclusively, no, but by and large, and the neocon ideology is the mainstream GOP ideology.

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 17, 2013, 12:39 pm

        “i think bilal’s comment is a distraction from the point. keyes showing up at the party does not indicate a neutral stance wrt the conflict”

        I agree with you there, Annie. Alicia Keyes put her lot in with the oppressors and the Apartheiders. To hell with her.

      • Hostage
        July 17, 2013, 12:48 pm

        The only issue I see involves the legal “Right of Publicity”. Celebrities have the right to control the exploitation of their names, image, or persona. So, it could be that Alicia Keyes is intentionally boycotting the Thank Israeli Soldiers organization and hasn’t sanctioned its use of her image.
        link to nolo.com

        It would probably be a good idea to follow Aussie Dave’s example and stop trying to publicize a relationship if Keyes’ PR people have denied that one exists.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 17, 2013, 3:15 pm

        stop trying to publicize a relationship if Keyes’ PR people have denied that one exists.

        ok, this is a little out there but i thought i’d ask anyway.

        remember when hugh grant and eddy murphy were both caught in compromising positions with unsavory company. both would probably assert their actions did not constitute a ‘relationship’. i’m sure neither wanted publicity. but the public wanted to know all about who they were engaged with.

        granted, it’s a lot different and keyes was just a celebrity passing thru and partying after her concert kinda stuff. but assuming she chose to hang out w/these people, what constitutes no relationship? it wasn’t like getting ones photo taken at a public book signing. she was at someone’s house, that indicates at least as much contact as being in someones car. doesn’t it?

      • ToivoS
        July 17, 2013, 5:21 pm

        Hostage, what a silly comment. Celebrities are continually having their images published without their permission: haven’t you ever seen the National Inquirer or about 200 other similar pubs.

        Keyes has simply let slip an unattractive side of her world view and, in this case, she deserves to have it publicized for all to see. She is being used as the poster celebrity to bash BDS. The Israelis and their supporters have not hesitated in making that case. Now we know that her visit was not just an abstract expression of “artistic freedom” but it reveals her underlying admiration of Israeli militarism. Being a public figure, the world deserves to know this.

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 17, 2013, 5:43 pm

        “Hostage, what a silly comment. Celebrities are continually having their images published without their permission: haven’t you ever seen the National Inquirer or about 200 other similar pubs.”

        Not silly at all. That’s two different issues. Hostage is talking about the ability of a celebrity (anyone, really) to prevent someone from, for example, implying endorsement or exploiting a celebrity’s image. That’s what keeps every small business person from taking pictures of themselves with celebrities at an unrelated event and using it to imply that the celebrity endorses the small business.

      • Hostage
        July 17, 2013, 9:18 pm

        granted, it’s a lot different and keyes was just a celebrity passing thru and partying after her concert kinda stuff. but assuming . . .

        Eddie Murphy and Hugh Grant didn’t lend their names or identities to any organization or enterprise based upon those personal contacts – and this is a very different situation where her publicist has denied any relationship exists with an organization on the basis of this photo op with a fan.

      • Hostage
        July 17, 2013, 9:29 pm

        Hostage, what a silly comment. Celebrities are continually having their images published without their permission: haven’t you ever seen the National Inquirer or about 200 other similar pubs.

        It’s not silly to assume that she has not authorized this organization or anyone else to use her image in endorsements on its behalf.

        I also read the law journals and legal blogs and keep up on the subject. So I know that many celebrities do have publicists and have retained lawyers who have sued and won judgments on their behalf against the National Enquirer and many of those other 200 similar pubs over their right of publicity. link to rightofpublicity.com

      • Hostage
        July 17, 2013, 11:04 pm

        she was at someone’s house, that indicates at least as much contact as being in someones car. doesn’t it?

        I’ve got no idea if this picture was taken in someones house and no way to judge the reliability of the source who thinks it was. Grant was charged with lewd conduct/public indecency. Murphy was pulled over after he was seen picking up a passenger who was wanted on a warrant for violating probation on a prostitution charge. In both cases there were reliable witnesses, including the individuals who were arrested themselves. It’s a matter of public record that they either pled guilty or admitted to the press that they were prostitutes.

        That’s hardly the case here, where all of the parties concerned have denied that Keyes ever visited the organization in question or has a relationship with it.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 17, 2013, 12:23 pm

      Not all Republicans support the Republican Jewish Coalition so I don’t see why Keyes has to blacklist the party.

      so bilal, why do you think the website removed the “Huge BDS Fail Of The Day” post?

      if keyes is pro iof why not just admit it and flood the internet with photos of her meeting with the group. there’s no reason for her to blacklist the party if these are the fans she wants to meet with. i think under the circumstances their connection to the GOP is probably the least of her concerns.

  2. Cliff
    July 17, 2013, 12:42 pm

    As expected she’s a hypocrite and a liar.

    Another celeb who plays for $$$ first and foremost. Hence why she issued lazy empty platitudes about the healing power of music (vomit).

    I wonder if she’d play for Apartheid SA if she had White SA friends.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    July 17, 2013, 1:03 pm

    RE: “It was a misrepresentation on somebody’s blog,” said an employee of Thank Israeli Soldiers, who refused to give her name and hung up after a five-minute conversation. “It’s not fair to put a star who’s on her own spiritual journey into a position of trying to make up stories about where she’s going and what she’s doing. So that’s all I have to say about it. It’s not true . . .”

    MY COMMENT: Such “misrepresentations” are one of the oldest “tricks” in the “Hasbara Handbook”! ! !

    SEE THE “Habara Handbook: Promoting Israel on Campus” (pages 24-25):

    ● Testimonial [one of the seven propaganda devices – J.L.D.]
    Testimonial means enlisting the support of somebody admired or famous to endorse an ideal or campaign. Testimonial can be used reasonably – it makes sense for a footballer to endorse football boots – or manipulated, such as when a footballer is used to support a political campaign they have only a limited understanding of. Whilst everybody is entitled to an opinion, testimonial can lend weight to an argument that it doesn’t deserve: if U2’s Bono condemned Israel for something that it didn’t do, thousands would believe him, even though he was wrong.
    Enlisting celebrity support for Israel can help to persuade people that Israel is a great country. Obviously some celebrities are more useful than others. Students are probably a little too sophisticated to be affected by Britney’s opinion on Israel, but those associated with intelligence like professors, actors, radio hosts, sports managers and so on can be asked to offer testimonial. A celebrity doesn’t have to fully support Israel to be useful. Quotes can work as testimonial, even when they might be old or out of context. . .

    SOURCE – “HASBARA HANDBOOK: Promoting Israel on Campus”, published by the World Union of Jewish Students, March 2002
    LINK – link to scribd.com

  4. just
    July 17, 2013, 5:50 pm

    Perhaps she should think before she sings.

    A poseur.

  5. action
    July 17, 2013, 7:07 pm

    I’ll bet Idan Raichel gave her the idea of visiting the TIS office for the peace and love photo op. link to thankisraelisoldiers.org

  6. Citizen
    July 18, 2013, 7:34 am

    If she was pursuing her own free, curious, artistic spirit, and knowingly allowed herself to be associated with this IDF support organization or not, I don’t know why, of all the groups she could be curious about while having some free time in Israel, she’d pick said group unless she was a supporter of the IDF beforehand. Maybe she was duped into going to where the pic was taken by this woman, claiming to be a big fan? In either case, the hasbara folks would quickly take advantage of her intentional or native image association with Brand Israel. And it’s reasonable to conclude that her handlers axed the pic as they thought it most lucrative to keep her neutral in the I-P conflict, and consistent with her explanation on her choice to go play in Israel because her music was for all humans, meant to bring them together.

  7. kalithea
    July 18, 2013, 11:04 am

    And what of the Z-thugs in the periphery? And here I thought I couldn’t be more disgusted with her…

    She’s gone from 100 to two zeeros. This picture speaks a thousand words. Caption should be: “hobnobbing in the apartheid gutter while the oppressed suffer”. Shallow, depraved and real stupid.

  8. pnkfloid
    July 21, 2013, 4:47 pm

    She hardly looks duped.

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