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Celebrities spread stories of hostages to campaign for their freedom

Some, like comic Amy Schumer, face social media backlash, but remain undeterred

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Amy Schumer speaks onstage during the 'Inside Amy Schumer' SAG Screening at Crosby Hotel on April 3, 2023 in New York City. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images via AFP)
Amy Schumer speaks onstage during the 'Inside Amy Schumer' SAG Screening at Crosby Hotel on April 3, 2023 in New York City. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images via AFP)

A coalition of Hollywood celebrities is campaigning for the release of the more than 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, with many undeterred in their efforts to tell the stories of the captives despite frequent abuse on social media.

Among them was comic Amy Schumer who faced her own backlash from followers, after showing her support for Israel online.

In reaction, Schumer turned off comments from her 13 million followers on Instagram, and is reposting the words and videos of others, including Times of Israel blogger Avi Lewis, Israeli activist Hen Mazzig and attorney Brooke Goldstein, among others.

Along with dozens of other celebrities, Schumer is taking part in the #ReleaseTheHostagesNow campaign, organized by non-profit organization Creative Community For Peace (CCFP), with television executive Nina Tassler, studio head Emilio Schenker, and with the cooperation of Israel’s Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

Each of the participating celebrities is using their social media platforms to tell the stories of the more than 240 people abducted by Hamas terrorists on the morning of October 7.

On that Saturday morning, some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seizing at least 243 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The viral campaign hopes to leverage the entertainment leaders’ considerable social media audiences to galvanize international support for the hostages and their families.

Other entertainment leaders taking part in the social media campaign are Debra Messing, Michael Douglas, Billy Crystal, Chelsea Handler, Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Jerry O’Connell, Joshua Malina, Alyssa Milano, Chuck Norris, Phil Rosenthal, Dr. Phil, Dean Cain, Kristin Chenoweth, Josh Peck, Juliette Lewis, Howie Mandel, Marg Helgenberger, Brooklyn and Nicola Peltz Beckham, Constance Zimmer and others.

“With every passing hour, the health and safety of each hostage becomes more tenuous,” said Julianna Margulies. “We hope this campaign brings their stories to life, offers the families solace knowing they aren’t alone, and moves us one step closer to their safe release. With each share, like and comment of support, the world unites against terrorism and in support of peace.”

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A post shared by @amyschumer

The campaign calls on the world to stand against terrorism and to express unwavering support for the immediate release of these hostages, said Creative Community for Peace executive director Ari Ingel.

“We must use every tool at our disposal to support these innocent victims of terror,” said Ingel. “Shamefully, posters of the kidnapped around the world have been torn down in antisemitic hatred. These are posters no one can tear down.”

Anyone can sign on to the campaign or receive updates at the Creative Community for Peace website.

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