Belgian actor and martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme edited a Facebook status after facing flack from pro-Palestinian followers, because he had greeted his fans “Shalom from Jerusalem, Israel!”
A rabbi with whom Van Damme met said the actor was in the Holy Land in search of spiritual guidance following the deadly terrorist attack that struck his hometown of Brussels.
Van Damme posted a Facebook status update Tuesday with a photo of him overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City wearing a cap printed with the word “Israel.” Those who saw the original message reported that he wrote, “Shalom from Jerusalem, Israel!”
Shortly after receiving a slew of negative comments, Van Damme rewrote the message to “Hello from Jerusalem!!”
“You should say salam from Palestine,” wrote Soufiane Benalla and Ahmad al Ahmad, using the Arabic word for “shalom” and “peace.”
“Jeruzalem is not from israel But from Palestina,” wrote Iza Tubadan.
After Israeli media reported on Van Damme’s social media edit, a throng of his pro-Israel fans posted their thoughts assuring him they support him and his original phrasing.
“Jerusalem has and will always be the capital of Israel, now & forever. Viva Israel,” wrote Eti Biton.
Barak Kedem appealed to Van Damme to edit his words again: “Van Damme, put back the word Israel!!!! Jerusalem is in Israel!”
In this Monday photo released by the International Center for Tzfat Kabbalah, Belgian movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme visits the Kabbalah Center in Safed, Israel. Van Damme visited Kabbalah center in search of spiritual advice after the terrorist attacks in Brussels earlier this month, Rabbi Eyal Riess, the center's director said. (International Center for Tzfat Kabbalah via AP)
Besides Jerusalem, Van Damme visited the International Center for Tzvat Kabbalah in Safed in Israel’s Galilee region, Israeli media reported.
“He told me that after the terror attacks last week in Brussels, the city where he was born and grew up, he was driven to seek spiritual guidance," said Kabbalah Center director Rabbi Eyal Riess, pictured with Van Damme in Safed, Israel. (International Center for Tzfat Kabbalah via AP)
Rabbi Eyal Riess of the center said that while there the actor studied Torah and the Zohar, a central Jewish mystical text.
“He told me that after the terror attacks last week in Brussels, the city where he was born and grew up, he was driven to seek spiritual guidance.” Riess said.
“He understood that problems of a political, economic, social and environmental nature have their solution in ancient spiritualism and the Bible,” the rabbi told the Hebrew news site Walla.
A number of high-profile non-Jewish celebrities, including Madonna and Ashton Kutcher, been involved with Kabbalah mysticism and have traveled to Safed, a city that has been historically connected with the Kabbalah movement and where its leading scholars are buried.