JERUSALEM (JTA) — A spokesman for Justin Bieber told JTA that the pop star is not meeting with children from Israel’s rocket-beset south because of logistics, not politics.
“Justin welcomes the chance to meet with kids facing difficult circumstances, regardless of their background, and in fact, he had already invited children from the Sderot area to join the 25,000-plus other fans at his concert in Tel Aviv on Thursday night,” the spokesman told JTA.
Bieber was enjoying his first trip to Israel, the spokesman said, "despite some logistical challenges."
The pop star has complained on Twitter that the Israeli paparazzi have forced him to hole up in his hotel room.
"i want to see this country and all the places ive dreamed of and whether its the paps or being pulled into politics its been frustrating," he tweeted Tuesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly canceled a meeting with Bieber set for Wednesday, a day before the concert, after the singer refused to meet with children from southern Israel, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. Netanyahu reportedly had invited children living in communities that have been hit by rockets fired from Gaza to join the sit-down. Bieber and his manager had asked for the meeting with Netanyahu, according to reports.
Some 700 children from southern Israeli communities that have been hit by rockets and missiles from Gaza were given free tickets to the concert. The tickets, as well as transportation, are a gift of The Schusterman Foundation-Israel, The Morningstar Foundation and ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators.
Bieber arrived Monday in Israel and has been touring the country. His itinerary includes visits to Christian sites in the Galilee, the Dead Sea, Masada, Acre and Caesarea.