As violence continues to unfold in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, influencers and celebrities are grappling with how to post about it. While some have personal connections to the region, others are facing calls from their audiences to use their platforms to spread resources, information, and support.
Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, have exchanged air attacks over the past week that have killed seven in Israel and 83 in Gaza, Insider reported. Victims on both sides of the conflict include children.
Last Friday, over 200 Palestinians were injured when Israeli police forces shot rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades inside the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Insider reported. The conflict began to escalate amid rising tensions, as Israel’s Supreme Court deliberated over evicting Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood that’s predominately Palestinian, to make room for Israeli settlers.
In recent years, the push for online personalities — influencers and traditional celebrities included — to speak out on social and political issues has become the norm, as last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests made clear.
Now, celebrities and Instagram personalities alike are commenting on the ongoing violence, some under pressure from their followers to do so.
Some celebrities with personal connections have posted resources and personal messages
Actress Gal Gadot, who is Israeli, posted a message about the ongoing violence on Twitter, saying that her “heart breaks” as her “country is at war,” saying that she was worried for her friends and family.
“Israel deserves to live as a free and safe nation,” she wrote in the post. “Our neighbors deserve the same.”
Her post was met with significant attention online with the majority being backlash and criticism, leading to her disabling its comments, Insider’s Zac Ntim reported. Critics highlighted Gadot’s mandatory military service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with some filling the quote retweets of her post with calls to free Palestine. Variety reported that some called out the fact that she wrote “our neighbors” instead of “Palestine” while Deadline reported others accused Gadot of serving as a “propaganda” tool for Israel.
There were Twitter users who defended Gadot, however, including Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who tweeted, “God bless @GalGadot.”
Other celebrities with personal ties to the conflict, notably models Bella and Gigi Hadid, also posted on social media. The Hadids’ father is Palestinian, and both sisters shared infographics, personal statements, and other resources on Instagram on Wednesday, including a widely circulated post that appears to have originated from @daliaskitchen that reads, “one cannot advocate for racial equality, LGBT & women’s rights, condemn corrupt & abusive regimes and other injustices yet choose to ignore the Palestinian oppression.”
Bella also shared a viral infographic from the pro-Palestinian account @Key48Return, which other Instagram accounts including Diet Prada, a fashion industry watchdog page, have shared. Iterations of the graphic have been subject to criticisms of being antisemitic or misleading by some in the Jewish community. @rootsmetals, an Instagram page with over 34,000 followers, posted a series of stories regarding the infographic, saying that describing Israelis as “settlers and colonizers,” as in the infographic, “denies Jews (and specifically Israeli Jews) our ancestral connection to the land and is antisemitic.”
In her most recent Instagram post, Bella shared a clip of Bernie Sanders saying, “It is not antisemitic to be critical of a right-wing government in Israel.”
“I want to make this very clear,” she wrote in the caption of her post. “Hate from either side is not okay – I do not condone it!! I will not stand to hear people talk badly about Jewish people through all of this. This is about HUMANITY not about religion !!!! This is about freedom in Palestine.”
Other celebrities, including Gigi Hadid’s boyfriend Zayn Malik, have shared resources or spoken out about the ongoing conflict. Malik posted an infographic originally posted by Complex News about the violence in Jerusalem, saying “I stand with the Palestinian people and support their resistance to colonization and protection of their human rights.”
Influencers say they’re under pressure from followers to speak out
In addition to celebrities, personalities like beauty influencer Bretman Rock, who has 15.9 million followers on Instagram, posted about the situation by sharing tweets and infographics on their Instagram stories.
Palestinian-Puerto Rican model Maria Alia, to whom Bella Hadid attributed words on criticizing the state of Israel without being antisemitic, posted about the effect of the Nakba — the mass expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their native land in 1948 — on her family.
“I’m a result of when this happened for the very first time in 1948, you can’t erase our stories and voices,” she wrote in the caption of the post.
Others have explicitly posted about the pressure to speak up and share resources. Sari Diskin, an Instagram blogger with 45,800 followers, posted a statement on her story about requests to speak out, saying that she had received an “overwhelming amount of messages” inquiring why she hadn’t spoken about the “violence and situation in Israel.
“I am personally connected to Israel with lots of wonderful family there,” Diskin wrote in the story post. “I am Jewish. It’s devastating all around.”
Cameron Rogers, an Instagram blogger with just over 53,000 followers, posted several written and spoken statements on her Instagram story about the violence. In a post on Tuesday evening, she said that she wanted to “use [her] platform for good,” but given that she didn’t feel educated on the topic, didn’t want to “rush to post simply to ‘post & please’ for performative reasons.”
Later, after saying that she had done personal research, Rogers urged her followers to seek news information from sources other than influencers and celebrities. She said that she doesn’t condone the violence, but “cannot be the person teaching anyone on this,” saying that asking influencers to repost infographics “doesn’t serve anyone a purpose.”
As BuzzFeed’s Stephanie McNeal wrote in 2020, “the era of influencers being apolitical online is over.” The shift began to take place post-2016 as the Trump White House polarized America, McNeal reported, with celebrities like Taylor Swift also breaking their silence when it came to political topics.
In the summer of 2020, when Black Lives Matter protests spread worldwide, influencers came under this same pressure. “Fans are in control of their favorite influencer’s destiny, and the message is clear: Use your platform to support Black Lives Matter, and do so quickly and meaningfully, or lose followers,” Insider’s Kat Tenbarge reported at the time.
Now, there’s a clear expectation for influencers and celebrities to leverage their platforms and speak on global human rights issues, like police killings of Black Americans or the violence in Palestine and Israel — and it’s something that their followers are monitoring.
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