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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Celebrities in Israel, around the world speak out about the Gaza crisis

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 This latest flare up of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has found many Israeli celebrities speaking up on social media, while abroad, it was mostly the usual suspects who criticized Israel, with a few celebs taking a more nuanced view.Gal Gadot, Israel’s most prominent international celebrity, released a statement on her Instagram account Wednesday, with white letters on a black background, saying: “My heart breaks. My country is at war. I worry for my family, my friends. I worry for my people. This is a vicious cycle that has been going on for far too long. Israel deserves to live as a free, safe nation, Our neighbors deserve the same. I pray for the victims and their families, I pray for this unimaginable hostility to end, I  pray for our leaders to find the solution so we could live side by side in peace. I pray for better days.”

Gadot, who posts frequently on Instagram on all kinds of topics, has 53 million followers. 

Pop star Harel Skaat, who performed in a shelter in the south in 2020 during a previous rocket barrage from Gaza, headed back to Netivot on Tuesday and gave a concert in a shelter, which he posted on Instagram and Twitter.  In a message next to the photos, he wrote: “It has to end once and for all. This is our country . . . .Sending a big hug to everyone sitting in the shelters, hope instead of fear.” He had sharp words for “all the supposed bleeding hearts from abroad who act like they are so wise and moral and who are so stupid and do not understand life. Am Yisrael Chai!”

Actress and television presenter Rotem Sela posted a photo of a man in a burned-out synagogue in Lod, saying, “. . . I can only try to imagine what you are going through. The fear, anxiety and emotional load must be unbearable. My heart goes out to you and like the rest of the country I hope the peace will come soon. In the meantime I strengthen you and send a big big big hug.” cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: ’36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b’ }).render(‘4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6’); });

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While few Israeli stars ventured into shelters in the south, many posted photos of what they were going through at their Tel Aviv-area homes. Actress Yuval Scharf and singer Eden Ben Zaken posted photos of rockets and of themselves and their loved ones in shelters, as did standup comedian Nadav Abekasis. The internationally popular hip hop duo, Static and Benel, went from posting TikTok videos of fans from around the world dancing to their hit, “Shake Ya Boom Boom” to clips of the Tel Aviv night sky lit up by rockets and messages with the hashtag #IsraelUnderAttack with dizzying speed. Singer Netta Barzilai posted a message in English to her fans alongside a photo of the rockets, with for people to educate themselves about the situation, showing footage, saying she was too hysterical to post more. 

Lior Raz, the taciturn action star of Fauda, posted an Instagram story, stating simply, “I support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Perhaps the most conciliatory message of all came from Lucy Aharish, an Arab television personality who is married to Tsahi Halevi, a Jewish actor. She posted a photo of herself with radio presenter Jackie Levy, with whom she has often disagreed, calling him “my brother.” She wrote that, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” and called on her followers to fight all terrorism. She and  her husband had spent the night in a shelter with their newborn son, she said, and she criticized extremists on all sides, concluding by reiterating, “Today, more than any other day, Jackie is my brother.”

Actor Avi Avni lashed out on Instagram and Facebook at Israeli/American actress Natalie Portman, whom he appeared with in Amos Gitai’s 2005 film, Free Zone. Posting photos of the two of them together, he wrote, “Not My Friend Anymore” and “Not Our Friend Anymore.” He confirmed that this was in response to Portman’s reposting a several-screen message from actress Viola Davis about the Sheikh Jarrah situation, which Portman has since removed from her Instagram account. He criticized the actress at length, both for the Sheikh Jarrah post and for her previous criticism of Israel, notably when she refused to appear with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept the Genesis Prize in 2018.  Supermodel Bar Refaeli posted about the crisis on Instagram, posting a clip of actress Noa Tishby, who has just written a book, Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, condemning the rocket attacks from Gaza, with Refaeli adding, “This is exactly the point.” She also added a photo of fathers cradling their newborns in a bomb shelter. 

Nazareth-born actress Maisa Abd Elhadi — who starred in Hulu’s Baghdad Central and Sameh Zoabi’s Tel Aviv on Fire — was injured after allegedly being shot by Israeli police during a demonstration on Sunday in Haifa. She had been protesting the Sheikh Jarrah expulsions and photos of her in the back of an ambulance were widely shared on social media. Elhadi, who will appear in Hany Abu Assad’s upcoming feature Huda’s Salon, posted on Instagram that she was grateful to everyone “who helped me and took care of me,” adding that she was “alright, but I was injured on my leg.” In a second post, she said she had been “injured by the occupation’s bullets.” She later reposted stories saying she had been injured by live ammunition. 

Daily Show host Trevor Noah released a short clip of himself talking about the conflict and acknowledged that the issue was “contentious” and that anything he said was likely to upset one side or the other. A few minutes into the clip, he focused on the on the fact that Israel is far more powerful than Gaza, asking the question: “So what’s the right response? Everyone has a different answer to the question and I’m not trying to answer the question, nor do I think I’m smart enough to solve it. All I’m asking is: When you have this much power, what is your responsibility.” Earlier, he compared outdated death tolls on each side, indicating that he felt Israel was hitting back too hard at Gaza. 

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) May 12, 2021

Frequent critics of Israel, actor Mark Ruffalo and musician Roger Waters, posted on social media to condemn Israel’s actions.

A note from Roger.

It’s official ISRAEL is an APARTHEID STATE.


— Roger Waters (@rogerwaters) May 7, 2021

Models Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid, whose father is Palestinian, posted quotes such as one by an artist, saying, “You Will Not Erase Palestine.” Singer Dua Lipa, who is reportedly dating their brother, Anwar, posted similar messages. Bella also posted a comic strip purporting to explain the situation, with phrases such as, The musician, The Weeknd, posted a message to “support Jerusalem” as a nod to the families in Sheikh Jarrah. 

Activists Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg posted carefully worded messages criticizing violence against children in Jerusalem without going into any depth about the conflict. 

Tel Aviv resident Quentin Tarantino has yet to weigh in on the current hostilities. In early 2020, he spoke to Yediot Aharonot about living with missile strikes from the Gaza Strip and said,  “I’m not scared at all. Like everyone else here, I don’t really notice it.” But now that he is a father – his son with singer/model Daniella Pick was born in February 2020 – maybe he has started taking the attacks more personally. His fans will have to wait and see. 


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