Justin Timberlake Instagrams his Western Wall visit, sparks controversy

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake performed in Tel Aviv last night. This is a controversial move for any musician, but it’s still commonplace. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd failed to organize a boycott, so JT is amongst a growing number of pop acts who have appeared in Tel Aviv. Bob Dylan, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Paul McCartney, and Elton John are just a few of them.

Ahead of his concert, Justin went to pray at the Western Wall. The Pope did the same earlier this week, but everyone’s paying attention to JT because he
Instagrammed a photo. JT’s caption read, “The Holy Land… What an experience. I will never forget this day. #Israel.” Some Palestinian fans showed their displeasure in the photo’s comment section. A debate erupted, and Instagram wll never be the same again.

I don’t think JT meant to cause any problems with this photo or the caption. It probably never occurred to him that some people would be offended. Without dipping my own toes into the controversy, I do find it a bit problematic that Justin is Instagramming it up at a religious site. This was a posed moment by JT. He turned around and adopted a serious posture, and someone else captured the moment for posterity. Justin fiddled with the Instagram filters to make sure the photo was just right. That’s a little obnoxious. It’s a bit like Rihanna pose-harding outside a mosque. Isn’t it enough for JT to visit the Western Wall by himself and experience a profound moment? He just had to show it off to the world.

Justin Timberlake

Photos courtesy of Justin Timberlake on Instagram & WENN

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56 Responses to “Justin Timberlake Instagrams his Western Wall visit, sparks controversy”

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  1. megs283 says:

    Agreed. That’s a photo for his private album, not his fans.

  2. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    It’s this culture of you don’t exist unless you’re posting it on some sort of public forum. People can’t be alone with their own thoughts anymore.

    • aims says:


    • Mia4S says:

      Perfectly put.

      Considering this is an utterly no win situation will he show some (rare) common sense and just keep his mouth shut?

    • swack says:

      I was just going to post something similar. I totally agree. I LOVE the moments I can have by myself and cherish every one I have as lately they have been few and far between.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      I agree, Goodnames. But this makes me think that JT’s was a way of throwing support to Israel, more so than a private and profound moment of reflection.

      Maybe not intentional on his part, but it does come across as political.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Could be that, you’re right.

      • Francesca says:

        I feel like that is giving him too much intellectual awareness credit.

      • Leen says:

        Okitt- Considering the timing, I would say yes. Plus technically the western wall is in the 1967 borders which has been recognized as the state of Palestine last year by the GA.

        The Palestinians didn’t react to negatively to the pope because he actually went and VISITED Palestine. JT did nothing of the sort, showing him very one sided.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        @ Lee-That’s a VERY good point about the pope visiting Palestine as well (as he should IMO).
        I’m an atheist but I really dig Pope Francis (as far as popes go).

      • Bridget says:

        @OKitt: I think you’re giving JT way too much credit.

    • Dubois says:

      It’s also the Gwyneth effect. Not that she started or perpetuates the photo taking side of it, but that they all believe their lives are better than ours and can’t wait to show this off. It’s like they get some sort of self validation through these overshare posts. “I must be deep and profound because I went to the Western Wall, and now everyone will know it and think it too”.

    • ol cranky says:

      I think current day celebs think posting something like this is a way to show they are thoughtful/introspective or something like that. They are blissfully unaware that they look like try-hard douches

  3. Erinn says:

    I agree with you. I just don’t find sharing photos of religious experiences with millions of people a classy thing. Religion is supposed to be a personal, kind of private-ish thing. Not something to get attention.

    • kri says:

      How tacky. I don’t care who is doing it-Riri swanning around at a mosque ( i think they asked her to leave and they should have) or this mini-twit with his huge ego. If you want to visit a sacred place with so much history and controversy attached to it, I think you should respect that site, and not treat it like a backdrop for your “I’m SO Deep” photo shoot. This behavior is trashy.

  4. Lindy79 says:

    Some people have no clue how to behave at things like this. Personally I’m not even one for photo taking.

    Someone sent around a link the other day to a bunch of teenagers who were doing a human pyramid outside Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam and then posted it to Facebook, all laughing and smiling..I mean….really?? Same with the 9/11 memorial, when I was there you had on one side a bunch of people taking selfie photos and laughing, then on the other someone sobbing while touching a name of someone they obviously knew.

    i get human emotion is a complex thing but there’s just some ways you need to reel it in and have a quiet moment. Not everything needs a selfie.

    Oh yeah and JT is an asshat but that’s always been my opinion.

    • starrywonder says:

      Exactly. Not everything needs to be freaking posted on FB or instagram. Bunch of nitwits.

    • Vesta says:

      + 100000 to everything you said.

    • Nicolette says:

      How can people take selfies and laugh at the 9/11 Memorial? Seriously. I haven’t been there yet, and do want to see the museum someday. It should be a solemn place, it is after all the final resting place for the remains of those who could not be identified. I personally don’t like the idea of a gift shop and cafe being there either. I can’t see viewing photos of people jumping to their deaths, which to me was the most horrific part, and then saying “Hey let’s grab a sandwich.” While many from all over the world will come to view it, it shouldn’t be given the same touristy treatment as other iconic NYC sites. I would think that seeing mangled twisted steel, personal artifacts, photos of the thousands killed and crushed vehicles would automatically put people in a somber mood rather than joyous.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Yeah it’s tacky but EVERY museum including the Holocaust Museum, the Oklahoma City National Museum (which commemorates our nation’s only other event similar to 9/11) has a gift shop. Battlefields at Gettysburg, Shiloh, Little Big Horn, Vicksburg and even Pea Ridge in Arkansas have gift shop and where I live in Boston, we have a gift shop for the Bunker Hill Monument and Museum, where 1,226 soldiers died in the Battle of Breed’s Hill.

        I agree that the US cheese plate etc, is tacky as hell but none of this is new territory for American museums and I’m surprised it generated the amount of outrage that it did from the public.

        But yeah, I completely agree with you ladies about the inappropriateness of taking selfies in sacred places.

      • lucy2 says:

        I’m OK with memorial places maybe having a small cafe outside of the main complex, especially if it’s something that takes a few hours to visit and there isn’t much else around. But a gift shop is pretty gross.

        I went through the 9/11 memorial at St Paul’s Chapel in NYC (amazing place and story there), and it was so devastating, I don’t know that I ever want to to go to the new memorial. I simply cannot imagine viewing that and thinking about posting selfies or being stupid like that. Part of me wants to chalk it up to people who were too young to remember the actual tragedy, but on the other hand, I wasn’t alive during WWII and I was able to have the proper reverence at Anne Frank’s house.

      • claire says:

        I was recently at the Memorial. It was prior to the museum opening. There were a ton of people, the line and wait was pretty long, and at least on that day, it was a quiet somber experience. I did not see people laughing it up or joking around or doing self-absorbed selfies. People were spread out around the grounds, sitting on the benches and talking, or touching the Survivor Tree, or just staring into the pools. The atmosphere felt appropriate to me and like I said, there were a lot of people. Of all ages.

      • HH says:

        In regards to Gift Shops, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t most (if not all) of them contribute to the maintenance and funding of their respective museums? Or is it one of those things where little of the money goes toward that contribution?

    • L says:

      I saw people taking selfies at Auschwitz when I was there last summer. As well as posed pictures with the train tracks in the background. It was a horrible horrible thing to see, and it wasn’t even just young teenagers. Adults who should darn well know better.

      There are just some places where it’s not about a picture showing ‘you were there’ is just not appropriate. Be respectful.

    • Dulcinea says:

      Exactly the same thought I had after I went to the trade center location the year after 911. There were a bunch of tourist taking pictures, thumps up, smiling by the fence! I wanted to scream at them…never underestimate the power of stupid I suppose…

    • Jenna says:

      It’s funny – I recently got yelled at, several times over the course of the day by total strangers with no clue others had had fits already at me over this… for not taking a camera with me when I went sight seeing. I had my phone, but that’s just an electronic leash to keep my husband from worrying, I really only ever use the camera feature on it for my knitting/sewing projects and a whole lot of photos of my cats (in my defense, that’s mostly for my mother in law. When all else fails, when she is at her craziest and most difficult, a couple pictures of our cats can distract her long enough to get things done. That… and I have some seriously weird cats who do odd things). I just would rather go places, soak things in, and if I absolutely MUST have a picture of a place – I buy a postcard. Far better a properly taken picture by someone who knows what they are doing then my hack jobs! But anymore, people actually seem to get hostile if you aren’t viewing the world around you (and them) through the squinty out of focus view from behind a camera. Is it really that horrible of a thing to contemplate walking quietly with your own thoughts, and remembering the experience that way? Loads of my friends will pull out hundreds of photos they took in an afternoon – but if you take the phone away and ask them to describe the building, the garden, the anything… they come up blank. No memories made, no experiences lived, just life as a series of overly filtered instagram shots and the endless hunt to have the most facebook likes! (Wow. Makes me sound like a grumpy old lady shaking her cane and yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn! But as someone without IG, FB, or any of the other endlessly expanding lifesucks of social media, I guess I just don’t understand the appeal)

  5. Sweetie says:

    So whats new? Another superficial soul over sharing / posing for the approval of their peers. Society sux at the moment.

  6. QQ says:

    The same guy who had a Homeless people marriage greetings video at his wedding?! noooo Not possible

  7. Sumodo1 says:

    Lighten up! Millions and millions of tourists take pics of themselves at the wall. He’s just being a tourist.

    • Leftovers says:

      ^ This.

    • claire says:

      I just looked the tag up on Instagram. Justin is certainly not the first and he won’t be the last. This is the new norm. Everything’s Instagrammed.

  8. Dani says:

    In his defense I have friends (Jewish ones, at that) who go to the Kotel (Western Wall) and instagram/facebook pics of the trip. It’s something they’re proud of and something they want to show. In our society it’s normal to post your life on social media. I don’t think he did anything offensive. Maybe he really is touched by the experience and wanted to share it with his fans? I understand that his Palestinian fans got offended but you also can’t censor someone. He didn’t say he’s pro Israel etc., therefore I don’t see the uproar. Israel is just as much a state as say, California.

    • Arbee says:

      Seconded. In defence of JT, this doesn’t seem to be a political move. Neither is it show-offy. I don’t think anyone takes pictures thinking, “Now everybody will be jealous of my religious experience.” He had a moment. He wanted to preserve it. He wanted to share it. What is so wrong with that? I’m not the “first let me take a selfie” type, but everyone seems too eager to find something wrong these days.

  9. Molly says:

    My parents took photos together when they visited a concentration camp in Europe 20 years ago when my dad was stationed there and now that I look back at it I think its crazy. Like who wants a photo smiling at a former concentration camp. At least instagram wasn’t around back then.

  10. Molly says:

    I used to love him in his NSync days but now in his latest incarnation as a hipster r&b “artiste” I just want to punch him in the face too. He sadly grew into a punchable face and my 13 year old self is sad over it lol

  11. cro-girl says:

    He’s a tourist in that situation, not a diplomat, not a nobel peace prize winner, not a world leader. Even if he felt the land belongs to Israel and not Palestine, which I highly doubt, who cares!!!

    There is a certain element of respect when it comes to visiting certain places in the world (Rihanna Im giving you the side eye) but taking photos is what people do. It can cross the line into rude or ridiculous but 99% of the time this isnt anyone’s intention. We have all been in that situation before one way or another, not necessarily via touristy photos, and I think people need to remember that before throwing stones.

  12. OTHER RENEE says:

    If he had taken a picture at the Sistine Chapel, would anyone care? I doubt it. I asked someone to take my photo at the Western Wall too. I had finished praying and wanted a reminder of my experience while wearing my Tallit (prayer shawl). And yes, I put it on Facebook proudly. I’m an observant Jew BTW and these pics mean a great deal to me.

    • megs283 says:

      I was thinking about that – well, first, you can’t take a pic inside the Sistine Chapel…but secondly, I think a picture of the Sistine Chapel is one thing, vs a theoretical picture of someone kneeling reverently and crossing herself. JT is the center of this picture’s focus, which is what bugs me. I interpret it as he’s not taking a picture of the Western Wall, he’s taking a picture of himself, with the Wall as a prop. (I mean, it is better that he’s prayerful vs jubilant or something…)

      FWIW – if I saw a facebook friend with her prayer shawl in front of the Western Wall, I wouldn’t think anything other than “what a nice trip and a touching religious experience.” But JT’s pic just rubs the wrong way, since he popped it up on instagram for the world to see.

      • OTHER RENEE says:

        This makes me wonder whether people feel that a celebrity isn’t allowed to share a special and profound experience with the world BECAUSE he’s a celebrity. I do understand though that the pic is of him praying, whereas mine is of me smiling AFTER praying. But that’s got to be his choice regardless of his celebrity status.

  13. jemima says:

    slightly off topic but….. is he back to wearing hats again because the hair plugs aren’t working? Is he receding again?! Cos the plugs are god-awful looking!

  14. Jade says:

    I think it’s fine. My husband and I rarely take photos when we travel but sometimes I do think, what if one day my memory is gone? It would be nice to see pics of myself and us having these moments. If he only took one or very few photos of himself, I think it’s normal. But I still think he’s generally a douche haha

  15. SpookySpooks says:

    Does anyone reffer to the Western Wall as The Wall of Crying? That is the official name here ( Zid plača)?

  16. Val says:

    He has every right to take a picture at the Western Wall AND to post it. I don’t see the harm, he is not just an artist but also a tourist and it’s his first time in Israel and he wanted to share that moment with his fans.
    Paranoid pro-palestinian wackos will always look and dig for trouble whenever someone dares to perform in Israel. It causes nothing but arguments and confrontation and serves no purpose.

    • Jessie says:

      I also think it’s a harmless picture and that politics should be left out of this.

  17. word says:

    Well obviously if you don’t take a pic of it, filter it on instagram, and post it on twitter, it never happened. That’s how this ridiculous generation is. Keeping things private is something that is now a lost art. I do think he has a right to practice whatever religion he wants and visit any religious site he wants…someone on this earth will be offended no matter what you do.

  18. mommak918 says:

    Id do the same thing if I was him. It would be my lifetime goal to visit and pray in the Holy Land.

  19. Rita says:

    What the big problem?? JT was at the Wester Wall and the Western Wall is at Israel !!!
    I don’t know another country around us that the Western Wall is there !!!
    the palestinian have problem with everyone and everything that call ISRAEL.

    And by the way JT gave a performance of a King.
    Not like Rihanna she was a big shame.
    Rita – Proud Israeli.

  20. Grant says:

    Seriously? He’s in trouble because he /GASP took a picture at the Western Wall and /GASP posted it on Instagram??? WHO CARES?! Why is this a big deal? If he wants to post a picture, let him post the picture.

  21. eva k says:

    Agreed. Posing for a “praying” photo is just tacky. “Everyone look at me being humble and holy”.