Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
The Schmooze

Mystery Solved! Madonna Viral Instagram Pic Was Israeli Gay Party Ad

Sorry, Madonna fans, but the Material Girl’s provocative Instagram photo of a Jewish man and an Arab man about to lock lips isn’t quite what it seems.

The photo is actually of two Israeli Jews: Imri Kalmann, 28, and Dekel Aiden, 24, two Tel Aviv party promoters who host a periodic gay club party called Dreck.

“I am not really Orthodox and he is not really Palestinian,” said Kalmann.

The picture first appeared last summer on a poster promoting a Dreck party in Tel Aviv. Kalmann said his team planned on something racier, but changed its concept after the start of Israel’s war with Gaza.

“We decided to do a photo shoot to say something that we feel regarding the war.”

In the picture, Kalmann is wearing a skullcap with Hebrew lettering and fake side curls that he purchased at a costume shop. Aiden is wearing a keffiyeh, or Palestinian national scarf, from Nazareth.

The poster was controversial at the time.

“Some understood the humor and liked it and appreciated it,” said Kalmann. “Some thought that in the middle of the war, when missiles were falling in Tel Aviv and people are in the war that it was not a time for peaceful homosexual posters. I don’t agree. I think that is the time to do it.”

Madonna’s Instagram post also raised hackles of her followers, most of whom apparently took it as authentic display of cross-cultural affection.

“You do not know at all what is happening here in Israel. Do not post such a picture here again,” one wrote.

Others were supportive: “Love is love my friends — doesn’t matter if you are Jewish or Muslim or whatever.”

Kalmann said that he was “shocked” when he saw Madonna post his photo on her feed. He has been to five of her concerts. “I really, really love Madonna.”

He said he has no idea how she found the image — but is happy the world is seeing it.

“I am very, very excited I have an opportunity to show this message to so many people and I thank Madonna for this.”

Dreck has stirred controversy in the past when it published a photo of a staged ISIS beheading to promote one of its parties. The group later apologized on Facebook.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.