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Justin Bieber‘s 20-word note in the guest book at the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam has caused quite a stir.
The pop star’s message — “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” — was posted by the official site of the Dutch landmark, and deemed by many to be insensitive. Bieber, 19, in turn took heat both from Jewish circles and beyond.
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But a person very close to Bieber — his musical director and guitarist Dan Kanter, who accompanied the singer to Israel in 2011 where he opened Bieber’s Tel Aviv concert with a six-string rendition of “Hatikvah,” the country’s national anthem — is coming to the star’s defense, writing a moving piece about the topic which was shared by a friend, respected industry photographer Jeff Kravitz.
Among the observations Kanter makes is that Bieber’s message was “in fact thoughtful and profound” and he goes on to explain why vis-a-vis his own deeply personal introspection about the Holocaust. Kanter, who is Jewish, reveals that Bieber was “moved by his experience” and “inspired by Anne’s brave and ultimately tragic story.”
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From his view, which is often directly at Bieber’s side, Kanter thinks the media’s attempt “to distort, demean, and degrade his meaningful visit” is simply shameful.
Read Kanter’s note in its entirety below:
To anyone who was offended or has written critically on Justin’s message in the Anne Frank House guestbook,
As a proud and practicing Jewish person, this topic hits close to home. Therefore I feel it necessary to comment on these malicious media attacks against my boss and friend.
What Justin wrote in the Anne Frank House guestbook was not ignorant or disrespectful – it was in fact thoughtful and profound. Having grown up in a Jewish family in addition to attending Hebrew day school and Jewish summer camp, the Holocaust is a topic I have studied extensively. When conceptualizing the events of the Holocaust, it is common to imagine ourselves and our loved ones in the places where people were persecuted by the Nazis. This is to forge a personal connection with those who suffered — so that we remember, and of course so that it never happens again. When I was 14 years old and watched Schindler’s List for the first time, I imagined my own grandparents being taken away and killed because they were too old and weak to work. When I watched The Pianist, I imagined my own family being taken from our houses with little-to-no belongings.
Last month when we were in Poland, the March of The Living set up a trip for me to visit the Nazi concentration and death camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau. When there, my guide encouraged me to once again envision myself and my loved ones as if we were among those who were imprisoned, tortured, and killed. When I saw the room full of shoes, a pair of children’s shoes made me think of my brother. When I saw the room full of hair, strands of curly blonde hair made me think of my mother. When I stood in the blistering cold winter at the end of the train tracks in Birkenau – at the crossroads where families were broken apart — I imagined my own wife being torn from my arms. And when I stood in a gas chamber and saw hundreds of fingernail scratches strewn across the walls, I imagined myself, dying horrifically.
Anne Frank was 13 when she and her family went into hiding, and 16 when she died in a Nazi Concentration camp. Justin is 19 years old, only 3 years older than Anne was. Furthermore, everyday he meets hundreds of girls of the same age and performs for thousands more. The fact is: no one in the entire world has a stronger relationship with millions of teenage girls than Justin. Therefore, it only makes sense that he would connect with Anne this way. And when he learned that Anne was a fan of pop culture, his connection was that much greater. Justin wrote that he was inspired by Anne’s brave and ultimately tragic story. In the same way that Anne reminded me of my teenage cousin when I first visited the Anne Frank House in 2008, Justin thought of the millions of Beliebers he cares so much about — and Anne Frank definitely would have been one of them.
Justin is the busiest person I know. He did not have to visit the Anne Frank House, but he did, and was moved by his experience. We are taught to study, commemorate and remember the events of the Holocaust so that they never happen again (????? ?? ???). But now, when one of the most famous people in the world visits the Anne Frank House, and is inspired by his visit, you attack him instead of applaud him for drawing exposure to the story of Anne Frank and the Holocaust. Justin is a 19 year-old who wrote what was to him a heartfelt comment to mark this life experience. To do as the media has done, is to distort, demean, and degrade his meaningful visit.
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