Both sides of the Israel-Palestine debate are going nuts over an alleged shout-out that Rihanna made to Palestine — and not Israel — at her sold-out concert in Tel Aviv last night.
Thing is, it didn't actually happen.
As the story went, while Rihanna was performing "Pour It Up," she changed the lyric "All I see is dollar signs" to "All I see is Palestine." Palestinians and their supporters began praising her gutsy move on Twitter — much-needed cred in the Arab world for Rihanna after she ignored the BDSers by scheduling a show in Israel, then staged a sexy photo shoot outside the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi earlier this week. Meanwhile, all the Israelis who had been in attendance at the Tel Aviv concert started asking: Wait, why didn't I hear that?
Here's how the rumor started.
The only news outlet that originally reported the lyric change was left-wing Israeli paper Ha'aretz. In her review of the concert, entertainment reporter Amy Klein wrote:
Nor did [Rihanna's fans] care when in “Pour it Up” instead of “All I see is signs / All I see is dollar signs,” she subbed in “All I see is Palestine,” or the fact that she just kept inserting calls of “Tel Aviv!” in every song – never once saying the word Israel.Jereusalem Post reporter Lahav Harkov, who was also in attendance, was the first to speak up. "If every newspaper in the country sent ppl to the @rihanna concert & only Haaretz heard a pro-Palestinian comment, it probably didn't happen," she Tweeted. Another warning sign could have been that Rihanna had been hashtagging #Israel all up on her Twitter feed in the days leading up to the show.
However, that didn't stop international aggregators as big as Al Bawaba, Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post and Radar Online from picking up the Ha'aretz observation. Even the Muslim Women in History Tumblr account asked: "Time to forgive her?"
Oops. Here's proof that Rihanna didn't shout-out Palestine, beginning at the six-minute mark, via YouTube user RobynsBitch:
In a personal poll of about 10 of my friends who attended the concert, all of them agreed that Rihanna never used the word "Palestine." But if anyone out there has any proof she did, please — throw it at me. And can we all take a moment to hand it to Ha'aretz reporter Amy Klein for the cleverest lyric swap of 2013? Even if it was just in her head.