Lebanon's Nancy Ajram faces backlash after posing with Israeli blogger

Lebanon's Nancy Ajram faces backlash after posing with Israeli blogger
The iconic Lebanese singer, Nancy Ajram, attracted criticism online for a photo she took with an Israeli fan on the sidelines of a concert in Cyprus.
2 min read
21 February, 2024
Israeli travel blogger Itzik Balas posted the photos on his Instagram account, praising Ajram's talent. (Instagram)

Lebanese popstar Nancy Ajram sparked controversy on social media after she appeared in videos with an Israeli travel blogger in Cyprus.

Videos and images shared online showed Ajram shaking hands with Israeli travel blogger Itzik Balas as he stood next to her to take photos on the sidelines of her concert in Cyprus. 

The pictures were posted by Balas on his Instagram account with a caption voicing his excitement to have met "the global megastar of the Arab world".

The photos circulated widely on social media and caused outrage among some users who criticised Ajram for appearing with Israelis, especially amid Israel's war on Gaza and bombing of southern Lebanon.

Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon killed 10 civilians in a single day last week.

Some users on social media platforms defended Ajram, saying that her public position leads her to pose with fans without checking their identity.

"Notice how online attacks for 'fraternizing with Israel' are almost always publicly directed at attractive women," one X user tweeted to defend the singer, who has already been attacked in the past for similar incidents. "These attacks are nothing more than the online squeals of incels and misogynists disguised as virtue."

Lebanon has several "anti-normalisation" laws that prohibit citizens from interacting or having business relations with Israelis. Although the laws are applied inconsistently, the idea that interacting publicly with Israelis is reprehensible has widely permeated society, and public figures often come under fire for this.

Ajram came under fire last year for taking a photograph with an Israeli fan also in Cyprus. At the time, she responded to critics by saying she does not give "testimonies on my patriotism to anyone!".

"My belonging to this land [Lebanon] and its roots transcends trivialities and remains above any consideration. [I am] Lebanese and Arab until the last breath," she said at the time.

The Lebanese singer, who has 40 million Instagram followers and is one of Lebanon’s most iconic contemporary artists, did not comment on the latest controversy.