Following backlash, YouTuber for toddlers sings prayer for children of Gaza, Israel

Rachel Griffin Accurso, whose ‘Ms. Rachel’ channel has 10 million subscribers, says she was cyberbullied for mentioning Gazan kids, but not Israeli, in conflict zone fundraiser

Ms. Rachel, the hit children's video educator, singer-songwriter, in a clip from one of her videos. (Screenshot via YouTube)
Ms. Rachel, the hit children's video educator, singer-songwriter, in a clip from one of her videos. (Screenshot via YouTube)

JTA — Following a campaign of criticism over a video fundraiser for children in multiple conflict areas, including Gaza, the popular children’s video educator Ms. Rachel released a song Thursday in support of “all the children,” including hostages and those in Israel.

“This is a prayer for children in Gaza,” she sings, “This is a prayer for children in Israel. This is a prayer for all the children: please stop hurting them. This is a prayer for all the civilians. This is a prayer for all the hostages. This is a prayer for all the innocent. Please stop hurting them.”

The song also prays for “all the leaders,” “all in charge,” and “all the presidents.”

Rachel Griffin Accurso, known to her child and adult viewers as Ms. Rachel, has nearly 10 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 4 million followers on TikTok. Griffin Accurso launched the fundraiser May 13 through the charity Save the Children, for which she is an ambassador.

The fundraiser, which sold out and raised $50,000, benefits children in Gaza, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine “and more,” according to the description on Cameo, where she is recording the 500 videos purchased so far.

“The idea is, I’ll make videos for little ones, and all the money raised on my end will go to Save the Children’s emergency fund, which will go to children living in conflict in Gaza, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine,” she said in the video announcement. (Throughout her content, Griffin Accurso refers to children as “little ones” or “littles”.)

While the vast majority of response to the fundraiser has been positive, one vocal segment of the internet that has been divided has been among some Jewish mothers who felt that Israeli children were left out of the fundraiser.

Save the Children does not operate in Israel, and the website instead directs visitors to partner charities that do. Save the Children has also issued statements about the situation in Israel and Gaza, including one that expressed concern about the status of child hostages. Currently, two child hostages remain in Gaza, Ariel and Kfir Bibas.

Other critics say that the fundraiser downplays the atrocities of October 7 — when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians including 39 children, and kidnapped 252 – and some have even created parody videos of Ms. Rachel’s content to show footage of the attacks.

Griffin Accurso has been public about her experience being the target of cyberbullying as a result of the fundraiser.

In a video filmed in a dark room, uploaded on May 16, she said, “The bullying is so bad. It’s so bad. But I can handle this. Saying I don’t care about all kids — it just hurts so bad. That is who I am.”

In the caption for the video, she added, “I care deeply for all children. Palestinian children, Israeli children, children in the US — Muslim, Jewish, Christian children — all children, in every country. Not one is excluded,” she wrote. I think part of why people respond to the show is they feel that care — I see every child as I see my own. I love every neighbor. Any child suffering is on my heart.”

She concluded, “To do a fundraiser for children who are currently starving — who have no food or water — who are being killed — is human.”

Griffin Accurso has since made a few short videos explaining why the situation in Gaza is an emergency. Comments on her Instagram posts related to the fundraiser have been closed.

The onslaught of social media harassment following her now is not the first time Griffin Accurso has been the target of cyberbullying. In late February 2023, Griffin Accurso took a short mental health break from social media following an onslaught of negative reactions from conservative followers who were angered by the inclusion of her co-star Jules Hoffman, who uses they/them pronouns.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says that since October 7 more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals, and it is unclear how many children have been killed. The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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