Robbie Williams thinks Israel is “f****** amazing”

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Robbie Williams thinks Israel is “f****** amazing”

That's why he is performing there in June along with Sam Smith at Tel Aviv's Summer in the City Festival

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Robbie Williams is heading back to Israel
Robbie Williams is heading back to Israel

“I speak to a lot of my fans on my website and the question ‘Where are you most excited to play?’ comes up a lot. I always say Israel.”

These were the words of Robbie Williams ahead of his first concert in Israel in 2015. And when the interviewer followed up with a withering, “Really, but why?” Robbie just kept going. “Because I am genuinely excited to go there. The people, the place and the history – there is an unspoken energy coming from the place.”

Every supportive word was another jarring slap in the face of a BDS supporter – and there were many who were opposed to his visit to the Jewish state. On social media and in column inches they reminded the entertainer that he was a UK UNICEF children’s ambassador and that, as such, by appearing in Israel would ‘normalise settler colonialism, war crimes… and apartheid?’.

Robbie took his dad Robert to Israel last time

But Williams verbally shrugged off the calls to stay away: “I have pressure from people not to appear in Blackpool. And I’m sure if enough people got together, they could start a petition demanding that they don’t want me to perform anywhere, ever. Because I offend their sensibilities.”

He certainly offended the sensibilities of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who unsurpris- ingly was one of his most strident critics. But it was Waters off a duck’s back as far as the former Take That star was concerned when he touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport on 30 April in his private Boeing jet, later telling his adoring 40,000 crowd: “Israel is f***ing amazing.”

And now, after infuriating the baying activists nine years ago, Robbie is fearlessly returning to Israel.On1 June, he is the big name at the Summer in the City festival at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park.

Robbie and Sam Smith will perform at Hayarkon Park

Supported by the lesser- known Martin Garrix, a Dutch DJ and record producer, and Calum Scott, an English singer/ songwriter who rose to prominence on Britain’s Got Talent, Robbie arrives in Israel lit by the success of his most recent XXV album, which earned him a new record for a solo artist – 13 of Williams’ albums reached the top of the British album charts. This won’t please the detractors who don’t want him
to be a Holy Land headliner, but Robbie has pushed ahead, even paving the way for his arrival by dropping nuggets of Jewish connection and affiliation.

Robbie and his wife Ayda with the kids

This started a few months ago when he was a guest on the podcast Andrew Gold: On the edge and took interest in the host’s surname. “Gold? That’s a Jewish name isn’t it?” said Robbie. “It is,” replied Gold. “My children are Jewish,” replied Robbie , which is the case for Theodora Rose (Teddy), 11, Charlton Valentine (Charlie), nine, Colette Josephine (Coco), five, and Beau Benedict Enthoven, who was three in December, because their mother, Robbie’s wife Ayda Field, is Turkish-Jewish.

More than that, as Robbie revealed, the family celebrate Jewish chagim and, despite not celebrating Passover this year because of his touring, the Williams clan went big on Chanukah in a show of solidarity “against Kanye West”.

Julia Haart’s, My Unorthodox Life which Robbie thinks is crazy

Robbie has also enjoyed watching Netflix’s My Unorthodox Life – “It is crazy” – the reality series which documents the world of former strictly orthodox Jewish woman Julia Haart, but it was in the Israeli paper Hayom that he really spilled the schmaltz by admit- ting that he was put off converting to Judaism because of a need for circumcision.

The thought of the op was enough for him to settle on “just identifying myself as a Jew. I am a Catholic who has distanced himself from religion, and Ayda is a Jew who has distanced herself from religion – but it is important that we have a tribe. It’s important to have a sense of belonging. I feel more Jewish than I feel Catholic.”

As Robbie’s dad, Robert accompanied his son and the grandchildren on his last visit to Israel. The shekel has probably dropped regarding Robbie’s new-found allegiance to the faith but there was no room for doubt last month when the star said: “If someone says Israel, I think of the land of my beloved’s ancestors. I get criticisms about performing there, but they don’t interest me and come from people who don’t matter to me. On this next visit I want to do an even better performance than the last one. It’s very important to me to impress the Israeli audience.”

Israeli singer Noga Erez, Robbie’s fav

The Israeli singer Noga Erez is likely to be waiting at the airport for Robbie as he expressed sincere admiration for her music on Twitter and even mooted the idea of a duet to The Limited Times, who asked him: “What song would you like to be yours?” to which he responded: “Wow… there are a lot of songs like that but if I were to choose one it would be ‘Nails’ by Noga Erez.”

Watch that space and also the cavernous space that is growing between Sam Smith and some of the singers fans who align with the Palestinian cause. Sam is also appearing at Summer in the City supported by Californian rock band Papa Roach and singer Nunu (born Nomi Aharoni-Gal), who counts among her hits the catchy Cute Boy, which was released last June in honour of Pride Month.

Sam Smith will be performing in Israel next month at least so far

That’s likely to be a Sam Smith pleaser, though less so for their gender- obsessed army who are currently urging them (Sam’s preferred pronoun) to cancel their concert in Israel because of alleged ‘pinkwashing ’. This is the term used to accuse those with a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda of ‘masking other human rights violations’. Referencing a previous statement Sam made about “never” performing in Russia because of its treatment of the LGBT community, their critics are now asking them to “stand on the right side of history” and not go to Israel.

Israeli star Nunu is Sam’s singing support

So far Sam is still due to perform on 31 May in Tel Aviv and might be reluctant to cancel as they would miss out on sampling a city that is regarded as one of the best in the world for LGBTQ+ nightlife. Along with the bars, Tel Aviv’s gay scene revolves around weekly parties held in open spaces such as the Bloq, a large arena located near the Tel Aviv bus station. In a show of support for their critics, Sam could also catch a drag show at the Duplex Club, a left-wing Jewish-Israeli establishment between Jaffa and Tel Aviv that is a favourite of Palestinian drag queens who also perform at the Palestinian-owned Kabareet club in Haifa.

Adam Lambert singing at Pride in Tel Aviv

Sam could also stick around for Tel Aviv Pride on 8-9 June, which attracts visitors from across the globe who this year get to enjoy a performance by the Jewish singer Adam Lambert, now Queen’s frontman. Critics won’t get Adam to cancel his plans as he has probably booked a stay at The Drisco , where he can eat at the restaurant George & John, or maybe he’ll be at the new R48 Hotel and Garden in Tel Aviv, where Chef Ohad Solomon’s 11-course tasting menu is becoming a landmark .

The R48 a place to stay for visiting rock stars

Sam might like to consider The David Kempinski or Theodor by Brown
Hotels, which is in the heart of the nightlife, while Robbie – considering his affinity with Judaism should check in at David Citadel or Mamilla in Jerusalem.

Dan Hotels are seasoned hosts

The Dan hotel group has welcomed Paul McCartney, Madonna,
The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga and others, so is versed in spoiling rock stars who are brave enough to perform on such a contentious stage. They are guaranteed a deliciously warm welcome wherever they stay.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: