After Kanye West performed in Israel on Wednesday night, he presumably had to sleep in a bed he didn’t own. The self-declared presidential candidate may not have to suffer that indignity on his next trip to the Holy Land.
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The Kardashian family, into which West is married, is among a number of non-Jewish American celebrities reportedly shopping for real estate in Israel. Others include Madonna, Ashton Kutcher and Mariah Carey.
What does Israel have to offer these stars? The answer, it seems, varies from spirituality to family and friendship, to money-making opportunities.
The Kardashian sisters, of reality TV fame, reportedly entered talks last January to buy two apartments in a Tel Aviv beachfront building for $30 million. A spokesman for Kim Kardashian denied that report, but entertainment news website E! Online later reported that Kourtney Kardashian’s then partner, Scott Disick, was in fact ready to buy a $5-6 million penthouse in Tel Aviv as a real estate investment.
Just three months later, Kim and Kanye West visited Jerusalem for the baptism of their daughter, North, in the Cathedral of St. James.
Also this year, pop legend Madonna entered negotiations to buy a $20 million penthouse under construction on Tel Aviv’s trendy Rothschild Boulevard, according to Hollywood celebrity gossip website TMZ. The project developer later said negotiations fell through.
Still, the Material Girl has been visiting Israel on semi-regular trips for over a decade, where she receives spiritual guidance from her teachers in the Jewish mystical tradition of kabbala. Madonna clearly has an affinity for Jewish-Israeli culture. In her 2005 kabbala-infused club song “Isaac,” she sampled a rabbi chanting the Hebrew poem “Im Ninalu” — written by 17th-century Yemenite rabbi Shalom Shabazi and made famous by Israeli singer Ofra Haza. And in May 2012, she launched her MDNA world concert tour in Israel.
Madonna isn’t the only kabbala-curious Hollywood celebrity thinking of putting down roots in Israel. Actor Ashton Kutcher reportedly spent part of a business trip two years ago looking for office space on Rothschild Boulevard.
The non-Jewish Kutcher — who married Jewish Mila Kunis earlier this year — has visited Israel for kabbalistic learning, marriage counseling and the funeral of spiritual mentor Rabbi Philip Berg.
He’s also an investor in Israeli companies focused on developing new communications technology. Having consulted with Yossi Vardi about investing in “Silicon Wadi,” he appeared with the noted Israeli venture capitalist at a local high-tech event in 2013.
Pop singer Mariah Carey and billionaire Australian boyfriend James Packer aren’t known to be investors in Startup Nation. But they’re pals with its first family, the Netanyahus. The Australian press reported in August that Packer is renovating a multimillion-dollar home he purchased last year, next door to the Netanyahu family’s private residence in the coastal city of Caesarea.
The Israeli press has reported extensively on Sara Netanyahu’s troubles with the help, but she apparently got along famously with the pop diva when they met backstage after Carey’s August show in Rishon Letzion. Carey shrugged off efforts to boycott Israel at the time, saying, “I do what I want to do I don’t care what other people’s political agendas are.”
For his part, Packer attended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to the U.S. Congress opposing the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran — at the prime minister’s behest.
Basketball fans and anyone who saw the recent Judd Apatow-Amy Schumer movie “Trainwreck” are sure to be familiar with Miami Heat power forward Amar’e Stoudemire. But few probably know that he is also part-owner of Jerusalem Hapoel and has openly considered playing for the Israeli team after retiring from the NBA — which would seem to require that he buy a home in the country.
Then-President Shimon Peres reportedly even asked Stoudemire to play for the Israeli national team in 2013.
Stoudemire has said his mother was part of the Hebrew Israelite Community, an African-American religious group that claims descendance from the biblical Israelites. Some of the members of the religious group have lived in Israel since 1969 and were the subject of 2014 documentary “The Village of Peace,” executive produced by Stoudemire.
Is all this celebrity investment good for Israel’s already overheated housing market? That’s unclear. But at least Kanye West can now claim some Middle East experience in his 2020 presidential campaign.