Justin Timberlake posted a photo online of himself praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in advance of his Tel Aviv concert Wednesday night, but was criticized for his use of the word “Israel.”
“The Holy Land… What an experience. I will never forget this day. #Israel,” Timberlake captioned the photo, in which he is seen with his head bent in prayer and hands touching the stones of the last remaining wall of the Second Temple that was destroyed in 70 A.D.
While the landmark is considered the holiest site in Judaism, Timberlake received some negative comments from Palestinian supporters who criticized his caption.
“FYI , it’s called #PALESTINE,” Instagram user remihattab wrote.
“Theres noland called israel be sure of that , its palestine and forever,” user shamasadnan posted.
Israel considers Jerusalem as its united capital, while Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Old City, where the Western Wall is situated, sits in the eastern part of Jerusalem that Israel captured during the 1967 war.
Timberlake’s photo received more than 200,000 “likes” within hours.
Israeli fans answered with supportive messages, including “welcome to the amazing state of Israel…we love you!!!#israel #israelforever #foreverisrael #israelstrong,” from user adidi_g and “Welcome to the promised land!!! Israel it is, Israel it will be always for eternity of days! No other names or countries behind, just Israel!!! Long live Israel forever! #promisedland #israel,” from user yanir.
Organizers of the concert at Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park have sold 44,000 tickets to the show. In one example of the excitement that’s been building, farmers in southern Israel named a new melon after Timberlake in honor of his visit.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the “Justin” melon has a sweet taste, a yellow skin, an orange interior and can last for three weeks on the grocery store shelf.
“The farmers at Ein Yahav hope that the melon will also serve as a good-luck charm for Timberlake, bringing him a long, healthy life and continued success in his musical career,” the Post noted.
Amidst the social media bickering, at least one user posted an appeal to accept that Timberlake’s visit is about the music.
“Why are people commenting on this picture,” wrote yuvalattia7. “This isnt about politics or what ur personal views about Israel are. He is there to perform a concert music should unite people dont hate on a country’s people because u dont agree with their governments actions. And even if u do choose to, dont comment on his pictures with hateful messages it wont change the fact that he is there and let him enjoy himself this isnt anything of your business. Thank you.”