Encounters with the Israeli paparazzi
BILL GRAHAM reflects on Sinéad O'Connor's less than friendly encounters with the Israeli paparazzi.
Israeli paparazzi are more persistent than those in European or American cities. At least, this is the view of the Sinéad O'Connor camp after she lashed out at a couple of photographers who followed her around Jerusalem before the local police intervened to return her to her hotel. Pictures of the affray were then featured prominently on the front pages of both the Irish Times and Irish Independent. The incident happened on her first visit to Israel where Universal Mother topped the charts and where she played successful outdoor concerts in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But pressure from photographers began immediately she arrived in Tel Aviv as a posse of snappers chased her car all the way from the airport to hotel. The Jerusalem fracas happened after she'd been followed for up to two hours. With drummer and former husband, John Reynolds, she'd intended to sight-see Jerusalem's historical and religious monuments. On at least two occasions, she requested the photographers to leave her alone but they refused. Friends have suggested that given her strong religious impulses, O'Connor would have been especially sensitive in Jerusalem which she had never previously visited in either a public or private capacity. Certainly it may be significant that the incident flared just after she visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the city's Armenian quarter. While four photographers waited outside, she slipped out a side-door and they followed. Then she lashed out at one photographer's camera and another's shirt. Meanwhile a cameraman filmed the affray and his footage was broadcast on MTV and Sky. But equally significantly, this wasn't the only flare-up between a star and Jerusalem's photographers that week. Only a few days earlier, Diana Ross was forced to halt a visit to the Wailing Wall after the paparazzi had followed her into an area from which men are debarred. The combination of the two incidents may have embarrassed the local Jerusalem authorities. When one of the photographers filed a complaint against O'Connor, the police shrugged him off. No charges were made or are expected to be. Then the head of Israel's photographers' union went on public record that her actions were "not unjust." After the event and her successful concerts, O'Connor flew out of Israel to play in Prague and then at Glastonbury last weekend