Bieber camp mum over Anne Frank controversy as rabbi defends him
POSTED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 6:40pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 6:47pm
(CNN) — While his comment about Anne Frank drew criticism from around the world, pop star Justin Bieber and his camp have remained silent on the issue -- and plan to keep it that way.
There will be no official statement from Bieber or his representatives, a source close to the star told CNN on Monday. Bieber did not mention it to his millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook.
The controversy stems from the 19-year-old's visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Friday.
In the site's guest book, he wrote, "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber." The tourist site shared the message on its official Facebook page.
Adolescent and teen girls obsessed with the Canadian singer are known as "beliebers."
Anne Frank died a teenager in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.
Thousands of people responded angrily to what Bieber wrote.
"She would've been a WHAT? That little idiot is way too full of himself," Kevin Garcia Leon wrote in the most popular comment on the site's Facebook page.
On CNN.com, the most popular comment read, "Can anyone be more self-obsessed?"
Rabbi defends Bieber
An expert on Anne Frank came to Bieber's defense Monday.
Had Frank been born 70 years later, she would have likely been a "belieber," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles.
"There's nothing insulting about that," Rabbi Hier told CNN. "She was very modern and she could very likely be his fan and on Twitter."
Hier has studied Frank's life and journal closely in preparation for the creation of a permanent exhibit at his center's Museum of Tolerance in Beverly Hills.
"Anne Frank was a very modern girl," he said. "In the room, she had pictures of Hollywood stars. She was infatuated with Hollywood."
Anne Frank hid with her family in the "secret annex" of an Amsterdam house for two years before she was captured by Nazis in 1944. She died a teenager in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.
The site, a popular tourist attraction among visitors to Amsterdam, expressed no complaints about Bieber.
"The Anne Frank House was pleased to welcome Justin Bieber to the Anne Frank House last Friday," an official Facebook post said Monday.
"We think it is very positive that he took the time and effort to visit our museum. He was very interested in the story of Anne Frank and stayed for over an hour. We hope that his visit will inspire his fans to learn more about her life and hopefully read the diary."
The comments under the statement suggested it did little to calm those who were infuriated. Few questioned whether Anne Frank would have been a Bieber fan, were she a teenager today. The complaints focused on why Bieber thought about himself at all after being exposed to the seriousness of Anne Frank's experience and the Holocaust.
"Pity the guy, after making the effort to visit, wasn't grown up enough to have a break from being so self centered and make a comment like that," Steve Landles wrote in the most popular comment on that Facebook post.
A 'chill day'
Bieber, who is in the middle of a European tour, stopped by the Anne Frank House between his concert in Antwerp, Belgium, and a Saturday performance in Arnhem, Netherlands. He told fans on Twitter it was a "chill day."
He visited the house "together with his friends and guards" Friday night, according to the site's official Facebook page, adding that fans "were waiting outside to see a glimpse of him."
The Anne Frank House confirmed to CNN that its Facebook post carrying Bieber's message was authentic.
While the vast majority of the comments online slammed the pop star, some people expressed support for him.
Heather Mirman cited a line from Anne Frank's diary: "Despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart."
"I think before everyone goes bashing Justin Bieber we should take a moment to think about these words and why Anne said them," she wrote. " ... He is trying to say that he would've been proud to (have) had her as a fan because of her courage and the fact that she believed in good."
Frank was 13 when she and her family began hiding in a dark and damp "secret annex" of the house to escape the German roundup of Jews in Holland in July 1942. She never left the house for two years, spending much of her time writing in her diary, until she and her family were found and arrested by Nazis in August 1944.
Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945. Her diary survived to tell her tragic and inspiring story.