Pop superstar Michael Jackson was mobbed by enthusiastic Israeli fans from the moment he arrived here last Friday with a retinue of some 200 assistants, managers, bodyguards and stage hands.
Jackson devotees greeted the singer wherever he went with awe and admiration — until Saturday, when a group of fervently Orthodox Jews gave him a less-than-friendly welcome as Jackson attempted to approach the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The group, finding all the stir surrounding his appearance there unseemly, overturned tables and chairs in an effort to barricade the path of Jackson before he could reach the Wall.
Jackson turned away from the barricade to avoid a confrontation.
It was the lone sour note during his Israeli sightseeing tour. The visit began Friday, following a 24-hour delay caused by a heavy rainstorm in Moscow, the previous stop on his world tour.
The teen idol was greeted at the airport by two young children of one of his locally hired security guards. They presented him with a basket of apples and honey, the food traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah.
In an effort to keep the crowds at bay, Jackson’s managers said the star would remain at the Dan Hotel — where he had taken an entire upper floor — when he was not performing at the city’s Yarkon Park auditorium on Sunday and Tuesday nights.
But within half an hour of his arrival at the hotel, Jackson was soon out and around, going on a shopping spree and taking in some of the country’s many sights.
Although it was the second day of Rosh Hashanah, when businesses are usually closed, several stores in the Dizengoff Center here were opened especially for Jackson.
Owners of four book, music and poster shops in the shopping center, informed that Jackson was on the way, rushed to send over sales staff and open their doors for him.
Jackson spent a couple of hours browsing among the shelves and buying thousands of dollars worth of discs, tapes, videos and posters.
Police and security guards were out in force to deal with the crowds of teen-agers who mobbed him.
Later on Friday, Jackson visited the Luna Park in the Tel Aviv Fair Grounds, near where he was to make his two concert appearances.
A few teen-agers who gathered there were allowed into the closed grounds to join Jackson as he sampled the rides and trampolines.
On Saturday, Jackson was helicoptered to the Dead Sea for a sight-seeing visit to Masada. On his way back, he stopped in Jerusalem for a brief visit, during which the confrontation at the Western Wall occurred.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.