“Gimme Shelter?” Gimme a break. A patently ridiculous “news” story claiming the Rolling Stones are to play two concerts in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to mark Israel’s 65th Independence Day in mid-April is gradually spreading across the Internet as fact.

It is featuring in numerous blogs, sparking debates between pro- and anti-Israel advocates, and even graduating to certain mainstream sites that ought to know better, and that will probably rush to take down their embarrassing, copy-cat articles when they read this.

The story was penned by Yori Yanover for the Jewish Press on Sunday, February 24, which should have been enough for most readers to realize that it was a hoax: Sunday was Purim, the festival marked, among other celebratory aspects, as a kind of kosher April 1, when Jewish publications traditionally carry fabricated items, easily recognized, in the irreverent spirit of the day.

Even for the not-Jewishly aware, however, the fact that the article was illustrated with a blatantly photo-shopped image, “showing” the Stones “holding” a large plaque bearing Israel’s state symbol, ought to have given the game away.

That, plus the most cursory read of the article, with its cheerfully silly content — such as the assertion that the band will meet President Shimon Peres “who says he’s been a stoner for ages,” and that “David Ben-Gurion’s wife, Paula, was a Kinks fan.” It quotes Peres saying that when the Stones hit “Get Off of My Cloud” came out, “[Moshe] Dayan brought me the single from London… We played it for hours in the office until Paula Ben-Gurion threatened to throw us out.”

Oh, and the writer added one more minor clue. The piece concluded with the following caution: “This has been a Purim prank…”

Nonetheless, the piece has been rewritten, quoted, and reposted on innumerable blogs and websites. On freerepublic.com, it has sparked a bitter debate between talkbackers about the Stones’ liberal credentials that somehow descended, via arguments about Judaism and Zionism, to discussion of the devil tempting Jesus.

On Friday, the wonderful “news” turned up on Algemeiner.com from the “jns.org news service,” which had the decency to attribute the story to the Jewish Press even though the writer obviously hadn’t read it terribly carefully. (Don’t be surprised if these links don’t work for too long.)

Excitedly headlined “Rolling Stones tell Jew-haters to kiss their……. adds another date to Israel tour on Israel Independence Day,” the item also appeared on the highly appropriately titled blog, “Before it’s news.”

Better yet, it turned up on “Impeach Obama Today,” a blog that sneers in its title, “If newspapers and other media were doing their job, this blog would not exist.”