Star Wars: The complete guide to Hollywood opinion on the Gaza-Israel conflict
Every Hollywood figure has become a war analyst, thanks to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. A look at the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly celebrity social media during the Gaza conflict.
There is nothing glamorous about the conflict between Israel and Hamas - but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from getting into the fray. Last week, stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, and Seth Rogen put their names on a petition in support of Israel that was also endorsed by a list of behind-the-scenes heavy hitters - directors, producers and studio executives, in the most recent volley of star wars surrounding Gaza and Israel.
Back in the old days, high-profile actors and musicians speaking out on the Arab-Israeli conflict was the exception, not the rule, limited to hard-core political activists like Vanessa Redgrave speaking out against “Zionist hoodlums” on the stage of the Academy Awards in 1978.
But in today’s brave new world of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter - as well as on television and the press - every Hollywood figure who wants to be taken seriously (and they all do …) takes a stand on the issues of the day, and Operation Protective Edge is no exception.
Haaretz has compiled a comprehensive list on the full spectrum of high-profile opinion on the conflict - from Joan Rivers’ all-out (and foul-mouthed) Israel advocacy to Selena Gomez’s hesitant hashtags, to the infamous “tweeters and deleters” to Russell Brand’s all-out calls for a boycott.
I. Pro-Israel - and not afraid to take a swipe at Hamas
The veteran comedian known for her unvarnished views and salty language didn’t hold back in her message to Hamas and lack of sympathy for displaced Palestinians in Gaza. “I don’t care! They started it.”
In a “double offensive”controversial HBO talk show host Maher managed to enrage both critics of Israel and feminist by tweeting: “Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who's trying to kill u - u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.”
Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who's trying to kill u - u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her— Bill Maher (@billmaher) July 18, 2014
A long-time vociferous supporter of Israel, the award-winning actor and papa of Angelina Jolie slammed celebrity critics of Operation Protective Edge: "You had a great responsibility to use your celebrity for good. Instead, you have defamed the only democratic country of goodwill in the Middle East: Israel. You should hang your heads in shame. You should all come forth with deep regrets for what you did, and ask forgiveness from the suffering people in Israel."
No one expects the shock jock to be reticent - and he wasn’t when it came to his views on Gaza. “Jews get enough shit all over the world ... Jews are the indigenous people of that area. The Arabs don't even want those Palestinians .. nobody wants them. If you're anti-Israel you're anti-America. [It's] the only democracy over there, the only friend we have." As for the Gazans: "Instead of being mad at the f--king terrorists raping their country ... that they're not angry with. They're angry with Israel. They elected terrorists to run their country."
The comedy legend’s views on Israel have taken a giant step rightwards over the past few years and her Twitter feed is dominated by the Middle East - with lots of retweets and her own abbreviation-laden supporting Israel and warnings about Islamism with a feminist spin. Here’s an example - “2 my palest. cousins: #Israstine luvs U, recognizes ur right 2 exist, bt ur gov sucks. #Hamas only4 death. #PatriarchalGovernments #ALLfail”
A gold star goes out to Mayim Bialik from the pro-Israel camp - for not settling for slogans, tweets and hashtags, and being the only strong advocate for Israel to refrain from bashing the other side. Instead, she has been blogging her feelings at length and from the heart as the conflict unfolded this summer: “Oh, Israel. What a month it’s been for you and me. I lost a lot of fans this month because of my love for you. But it’s OK. I love you more than popularity, even when you make me crazy. And even though I don’t always agree with Israeli policy, I’m still a Zionist.”
II. Israelis for Israel (celebs who stick their neck out)
Gal Gadot (aka Wonder Woman)
The Israeli model and actress put up a Facebook photo of herself with her daughter, Alma, covering her eyes beside lit Shabbat candles, with the caption: “I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children...We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom! #weareright #freegazafromhamas #stopterror #coexistance #loveidf”
The supermodel’s attempt at a message of peace turned into a rather embarrassing gaffe: On her Instagram account, Refaeli thought she was quoting American president Abraham Lincoln when she wrote: “There is no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good about war. Except its ending” The problem: the noble words were not uttered by Abe Lincoln but by someone playing him in the original Star Trek TV series.
Israel’s first NBA player Casspi told the Sacramento Bee: “I think of the people in Gaza … they think Jewish people are monsters with three heads. But Hamas is using humans as shields and building tunnels under people’s houses. What do we do?”
Entangled a vociferous Twitter war with his former British football teammate, Joey Barton, Benayoun wrote in Israel’s defense: I love my country I'm very proud to be an Israeli and like all of us I want peace and wishing for a good and quiet life.
SHAKY MIDDLE GROUND
III. Fence-straddlers (smacked around by both sides)
Covering all her bases with a photo of a symbol that says the word “Peace” in English, Hebrew and Arabic with a dove for good measure, Cease fire on both sides! The children of Gaza need our support! #ceasefire #peaceinthemiddleeast #livingforlove" - with a link to an organization to aid Palestinian children.
How far does tweeting #FreePalestineandIsrael and “I like Jews. I like Arabs” get you? Television personality Morgan can tell you that from his experience, it gets you labeled “Zionist scum,” and labeled an “idiot.” So much for attempts at evenhandedness ….
Palestinians need to be freed from oppression, Israelis need to be freed from fear of Hamas rockets. #FreePalestineAndIsrael— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 17, 2014
IV. Tweeters and Deleters
Rihanna, Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire
What’s the only thing that will get you into bigger trouble than tweeting #FreePalestine or Pray for Palestine? Tweeting it out, taking flack and then deleting the Tweet. That’s what happened to Rihanna, Dwight Howard, and Amare Stoudemire - who were then roundly bashed both for their Tweets AND for what was characterized as their cowardice.
V. Cautious Sloganeers
The hugely popular young actress, singer and on-again, off-again girlfriend of Justin Bieber grabbed headlines when she posted the slogan: IT’S ABOUT HUMANITY. PRAY FOR GAZA, adding the caption: Please pray for those families and babies today. Please always remember what's important in life. It's not any of this. We are here to help, inspire and love. Be that change. #wearethenextgeneration
Washington only Tweeted two words about Gaza (actually, it was two words that can also be one word) but her star power was such that it did not go unnoticed by the media. Next to a link about four Gazan kids killed in an attack, she wrote: Heart breaking.
VI. #FreePalestine, no other way about it
Zayn Malik of One Direction
The Muslim and half-Pakistani heartthrob tweeted #FreePalestine to his 13 million followers on Twitter, and caught a lot of blowback from his Israeli fans, one of whom wrote “One of my idols wants me to die.” Malik’s politics are a counterweight to fellow OneD member Harry Styles, known for his connection to Jews and Israel. Styles however, has kept his thoughts to himself over the course of Operation Protective Edge.
Farrow retweeted multiple images and messages regarding Gaza - messages like “Tell the U.S. to stop arming Israel” and “Remember, Israel could have had a ceasefire any time if it agreed to basic humanitarian conditions for people of Gaza.” She tweeted herself that: “Israel said its objective is to take out Hamas tunnels- but why are they bombing homes in Gaza City."
Israel said it's objective is to take out Hamas tunnels- but why are they bombing homes in Gaza City— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) July 20, 2014
Popular singer Legend tweeted to millions of followers: “So sick watching our secretary of state have to grovel so hard to tell Israel how much he loves them while Israeli cabinet s**ts on him.”
So sick watching our Secretary of State have to grovel so hard to tell Israel how much he loves them while Israeli cabinet shits on him— John Legend (@johnlegend) July 30, 2014
British comedian Russell Brand enters the “Roger Waters Hall of Fame” (Roger himself has been oddly quiet during the conflict …) for not only denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza in strong terms, not only boycotting himself, but taking the next step of urging others to join him. In a five-minute video, he made the case supporting an online petition that calls for six major companies to divest their stakes in Israeli entities that “facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza.”
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