Thank you

J.Lo, and her almost equally well-known and similarly nicknamed beau, future baseball hall of famer Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) made the most of their few days in Israel last week.

Jennifer Lopez performs in Israel (photo credit: LIOR KETER)
Jennifer Lopez performs in Israel
(photo credit: LIOR KETER)
Sometimes, a photo really is worth a thousand words... especially if it’s an Instagram post of Jennifer Lopez looking fabulous against the backdrop of the Tel Aviv coastline.
The global icon, known universally as J.Lo, and her almost equally well-known and similarly nicknamed beau, future baseball hall of famer Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) made the most of their few days in Israel last week.
Before and after her much-heralded Las Vegas-style performance for 57,000 fans at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, J.Lo was spotted and captured on camera enjoying Tel Aviv nightspots, Jerusalem eateries, the bustling beach scene and the holy sites of the capital.
After the concert, she posted a video and wrote: “Amazing energy in Tel Aviv last night!! Over 50,000 strong!!! I love you so much.”
Like an Israel PR wild dream, the power couple posted photos of themselves with their children riding camels, praying at the Kotel and visiting the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
A-Rod added a photo of himself on an electric scooter at the Tel Aviv promenade with the tag, “This beats NYC traffic any day. #Israel.”
Earlier in the trip, he posted a photo of himself and J.Lo in Tel Aviv with the tag “What an amazing time we are having on my first trip to Tel Aviv! The people have been wonderful and have such energy. I will definitely be back and recommend visiting this incredible country! How many of you have been here and how was your experience?”
And upon leaving the country over the weekend, A-Rod posted a photo of the couple overlooking the Old City taken from the Mount of Olives, writing, “Jerusalem, you are unforgettable. What a perfect finale to our first trip to this beautiful land.”
You might say, so what... two celebrities indulging the good life in Israel. What does it matter?
But, with their few Twitter and Instagram posts, J.Lo and A-Rod succeeded in doing what countless hasbara efforts, ministry budgets, conferences and strategies have been unable to do: portray Israel not only as a normal place, but an exciting, fun and even desirable destination.
Research studies and focus groups of Americans conducted on behalf of Israel have shown time and time again that the only things most people know about the country is that there’s a conflict going on.
There’s a small, vocal base which loves Israel and gets it, and another smaller but also vocal base which sees Israel as the oppressor of Palestinians. But in Israel, we tend to forget that there’s a vast middle out there for whom Israel is just a name in the headlines often associated with turmoil, controversy and carnage. Many Americans are even surprised to discover that much of Israel features a coastline and beaches, thinking it’s a barren desert.
Juxtapose that against a People Magazine article over the weekend, read by millions, entitled “Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez Enjoy Quality Family Time with Their Kids During Israel Trip” and featuring the aforementioned photos.
It’s not only priceless PR for Israel, but it’s truthful and indicative of the experiences that most first-time tourists encounter – they fall in love with the country. And the beauty of it is that it doesn’t require very much effort – no complex discussions about the post-1967 lines, or the demographic threat of a one-state solution.
Those are very real and urgent issues, but they can be separated from the virtues of the amazing country that has been built on this tiny sliver of land.
J.Lo and A-Rod’s visit here is not just a treasure for displaying Israel’s ample virtues to the world – it also provides a much needed lesson to those of us who live here. We get bogged down on the day-to-day reality and forget that there is indeed something very special about this place. Despite its myriad of problems and challenges and injustices that we can find the time to dwell on, we shouldn’t forget to sometimes take a break and ride an electric scooter on the Tel Aviv promenade.