(JTA) — A popular Tunisian singer with a following throughout the Arab world is under fire for appearing in a photograph with an Israeli soldier.
Responding to critics, Saber Rebai, a judge on the Arabic version of the talent show “The Voice,” said he did not know the soldier, whom he met while Rebai crossed from Jordan into the West Bank Friday, was Israeli and that he does not support Israel, Agence France Press reported Tuesday.
Rebai’s photo, taken while he was en route to a concert in the Palestinian city Rawabi, drew criticism on Arab social media after Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) posted it on social media with a caption saying it was “happy promoting concerts.”
COGAT later deleted the post, but it went viral on Palestinian social media.
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) August 23, 2016
In a statement released on Facebook on Monday, Rebai said he was unaware that the Arab-Israeli soldier, Hadi Khatib, served in the Israeli military.
“He introduced himself in Arabic as Hadi and said he was responsible for facilitating the crossing… so there was no communication with any Israeli,” the statement said, according to the AFP.
The statement said Rebai was a longtime “supporter of the Palestinian cause and rejected normalisation with the Israeli enemy.”