Rihanna Ignites Another Israel-Palestine Pseudo-Controversy

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Just days after NBA star Dwight Howard tweeted "Free Palestine" and quickly deleted it, Rihanna did the exact same thing. The tweet, which was favorited and retweeted by thousands of her 36 million followers, went out earlier today.


It was deleted just eight minutes later. Unlike Howard, the 26-year-old Barbadian star did not issue a Twitter mea culpa.

This leads us to the question: Is celebrity fickleness about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict becoming a trend? The answer is probably not. Though it might be a fresh breath of air.

Like with Howard, stumbling into this particular public relations minefield is one of those acts that an artist, no matter what side, had better come correct to. Take, for example, Rihanna's performance in Tel Aviv just last fall.

After announcing that she would perform in Israel, Rihanna became the target of countless petitions and social media initiatives, which pressured her to cancel her show in a political act of protest against Israel's policies toward Palestinians.

Throughout the years, countless bands have both performed in Israel (Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Madonna) and either promoted or participated in boycotts against performing there (The Pixies, Annie Lennox, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello). 

In a surreal and ridiculous turn, once Rihanna did perform in Tel Aviv, she ignited a firestorm when it was reported that she subbed the lyrics "All I see is Palestine" for "All I see is dollar signs" while performing the song "Pour it Up." Turns out, she didn't actually do that. 

But in these two episodes all the sensitivities of fame, cachet, and political conflict turn in on themselves.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.