Israel got a two-fisted public relations boost this week — one from a troubled corner of the political spectrum, the other from the pinnacle of pop culture.
On Monday, 41 Democratic members of the House of Representatives began a tour of the Jewish state, meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Last Thursday, Jennifer Lopez performed for nearly 60,000 fans in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, buoyantly telling them, “Ani ohev otcha,” Hebrew for “I love you.” On Friday, Lopez, accompanied by her fiance Alex Rodriguez, visited the Kotel.
Both the Democrats and Lopez showed up despite pressure from anti-Israel forces.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said the Democratic visit — a bi-annual event in non-election years, designed to give freshman lawmakers a first-hand look at the country and the complexity of its issues — “is significant.”
“The fact that [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer is leading it is an indicator of where the Democratic leaders are — and that the vast majority of freshmen are of a like mind,” Shapiro told the Jerusalem Post.
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said the arrival of the large Democratic delegation was a defeat for anti-Israel organizations that have been trying to move the party away from its traditional support.
Although a four-member “Squad” of radical Democrats has gotten a lot of attention, Oren said the visiting House members represent “the pro-Israel stream in the Democratic Party, which is the mainstream of the party.”
Lopez’s show was the first of six international stops in her “It’s My Party” tour. “There was nothing that was going to stop us from being in Israel. Nothing,” said Lopez’s manager, Benny Medina.
“A thousand ambassadors would not have been able to improve Israel’s image in the eyes of the world the way Jennifer Lopez, who has over 100 million followers on social media, has done,” wrote Yedioth Ahronoth media and music correspondent Raz Shechnik.
Both Lopez, who traveled with her twin children, and Rodriguez and made a point of being seen out and about and of posting their activities in Israel on social media.
“What an amazing time we are having on my first trip to Tel Aviv!" @AROD tweeted. "The people have been wonderful and have such energy. I will definitely be back and recommend visiting this incredible country! ❤️"
“Jerusalem, you are unforgettable,” Rodriguez tweeted after visiting the Kotel. “What a perfect finale to our first trip this beautiful land.”