Here I am, a silly diaspora Jew in a position of some influence, trying to counter the uncomplimentary image that Israel enjoys in leftist circles, wringing my hands over every second-rate washed up aging rock star (Elvis Costello, Roger Waters) who announces his commitment to boycott apartheid, racist, illegitimate Israel, worrying about this and angsting about that.
And every week, no matter how hard I try, the incompetent, venal, and corrupt politicians who populate the Israeli government make my self-appointed task just that much more difficult, that much more impossible.
This week Justin Bieber (Twitter followers: 8,803,025) came to Israel for a Thursday night concert in Tel Aviv. This week, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu (Twitter followers: 3,870) apparently extended a clumsy invitation to Bieber, claiming that he, Bibi, was approached by Bieber's entourage with the idea of a meet.
After a day of Middle East wrangling, which included Bibi's ham-handed demand that the meeting include Israeli children from the communities around Gaza currently under missile attack, the meeting was canceled -- we don't know by whom -- and Bieber was tweeting his sincere disgruntlement with his frustrated encounter with the modern Jewish state. Watch Bieber's wide-eyed wonderment turn into something very different, first by the local paparazzi, and then by the politicians -- "so sweet cruisen on scooters around tel aviv this place is beautiful :)" "amazing place...not a bad day. just wish got a little more space and privacy from the paps [paparazzi] to enjoy this time with my family. thanks" "im in the holy land and i am grateful for that. I just want to have the same personal experience that others have here" "You would think paparazzi would have some respect in holy places. All I wanted was the chance to walk where jesus did here in isreal" "They should be ashamed of themselves. Take pictures of me eating but not in a place of prayer, ridiculous" "People wait there whole lives for opportunities like this, why would they want to take that experience away from someone" "staying in the hotel for the rest of the week u happy?"
And the takeaway tweet?
"I want to see this country and all the places ive dreamed of and whether its the paps or being pulled into politics its been frustrating"
And finally, the lesson we've all learned at the feet of Bibi: "patience is a virtue"
So, after all the hullabaloo about boycotts and delegitimization, comes finally the absolute mega-star of the moment, and within 36 hours Bibi helps (along with the local paparazzi) to turn a trip to the Holy Land into a trip to hell.
Why do we even try?