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War of words

From Gal Gadot to Trevor Noah, celebrities weigh in on the Israel-Gaza violence

As rockets rain down on Israel and mobs riot in the streets, the Hollywood elite take to their social media accounts to make their opinions on the conflict public

Trevor Noah devoted a 'Daily Show' segment to the Gaza-Israel conflict. (Screenshot from YouTube)
Trevor Noah devoted a 'Daily Show' segment to the Gaza-Israel conflict. (Screenshot from YouTube)

JTA — Gal Gadot might have decided for a while to steer clear of current events after drawing criticism for her rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” during the height of the COVID pandemic. But the Israeli movie star was so moved by the deepening conflict in her country that she posted a message to her 53 million Instagram followers on Wednesday.

“My heart breaks,” the “Wonder Woman” star, who served in the Israeli army, wrote Wednesday.

“My country is at war,” Gadot continued. “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 and safe nation. Our neighbors deserve the same … I pray for better days.”

Gadot was one of countless celebrities to weigh in on the conflict, which has grown fierce over a matter of days and resulted in the deaths of seven people in Israel and over 70 Palestinians.

Many of the celebrities to weigh in are being highly critical of the Israeli government’s actions. Here’s what they’re saying — and how they’re being received.

Trevor Noah

“The Daily Show” host devoted nearly nine minutes of his popular Comedy Central show Tuesday night to discussing the nuances of the current conflict and the difficulties people have in talking about it.

“If you start from ‘Israel fired rockets into Gaza,’ well then Israel is the bad guy … but then you take a step back in time and you go, ‘Well Hamas fired rockets at Israel,’ then Hamas is the bad guy. But then you take a step back and you go, ‘Well, the Israeli police, they went in and started beating people up in a mosque during Ramadan … well then Israel is the bad guy. But then you go well the Palestinians, they were throwing rocks — well the Israelis, they were kicking people out of their homes — well the intifada — well Israel keeps taking more and more land — well the Arab invasion [could be referring to Yom Kippur War or 1948 War of Independence] — and back and back and back, and who knows how far!”

Natalie Portman

Illustrative: Natalie Portman at the Women’s March in Los Angeles, January 20, 2018. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Portman has criticized Israel’s government in the past — perhaps most notably in her refusal to accept the Genesis Prize, nicknamed the “Jewish Nobel,” in Jerusalem over her disapproval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday, the Israeli-American star reposted a series of images amplified on Instagram by fellow Oscar winner Viola Davis titled “What To Know About Sheikh Jarrah,” the contested neighborhood of East Jerusalem where Israeli courts have threatened to evict Palestinian families. Tensions over those pending evictions helped lead to the Jerusalem protests that set off the streak of violence, and #SaveSheikhJarrah has been trending on social media since the weekend.

Gigi and Bella Hadid

Illustrative: Gigi Hadid, left, and her sister model Bella Hadid attend Variety’s Power of Women: New York presented by Lifetime at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 5, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The supermodel sisters have a Palestinian father and previously have had harsh words for Israel on social media. Both have shared a series of posts and Instagram stories online since the weekend.

Gigi, the elder sister who has featured on over 30 international Vogue covers, wrote among other things on Instagram to her 66 million followers: “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, with over 41 million followers, among several Instagram posts included one with a series of images of two illustrated women talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One of the women asks, “So aren’t Israelis and Palestinians just fighting over religion?” The other woman responds: “They are not ‘fighting,’ Israelis are the oppressors and Palestinians are the oppressed and the situation is about anything but religion.”

The format has been mocked by some elsewhere on social media.

Malala

Illustrative: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai gives a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony at the City Hall in Oslo, Norway, on December 10, 2014. (AFP/NTB SCANPIX/CORNELIUS POPPE)

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pakistani activist recorded a video message in which she expressed her “solidarity” with the Palestinians and called Israel’s actions a crime against humanity.

“After decades of oppression against Palestinians, we cannot deny the asymmetry of power and the brutality from Israeli airstrikes on women and children in Gaza,” she said.

Lena Headey

Illustrative: ‘Game of Thrones’ star Lena Headey speaks to the Associated Press in Athens, on Friday, June 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Headey, the British actress best known for her role as Cersei Lannister on “Game of Thrones,” has reposted multiple posts from an anti-Zionist writer on Instagram. One reads “Save Sheikh Jarrah” and “Zionist Israeli Apartheid” over an image of a boy holding a Palestinian flag.

Another note that Headey reposted reads: “this is not a Jewish state but an apartheid Zionist regime … this is a colonisation of ethnic cleansing upon an oppressed and imprisoned group of people.”

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo, left, joins Michael Moore, center, as he leads his Broadway audience to Trump Tower to protest President Donald Trump on August 15, 2017 in New York City. (Noam Galai/Getty Images for DKC/O&M/AFP)

The movie star and known activist called for sanctions on Israel in a tweet: “1500 Palestinians face expulsion in #Jerusalem. 200 protesters have been injured. 9 children have been killed. Sanctions on South Africa helped free its black people – it’s time for sanctions on Israel to free Palestinians. Join the call. #SheikhJarrah.”

Roger Waters

Roger Waters poses for photographers at the photo call for the film ‘Roger Waters Us + Them’ at the 76th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sepember. 6, 2019. (Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

The former Pink Floyd frontman is a longtime anti-Israel activist and one of the more prominent public supporters of a cultural boycott of Israel. He posted a video message on Twitter calling for an end to the Sheikh Jarrah saga, or what he calls the “genocidal removal of people from their homes.” He also criticizes US President Joe Biden for staying silent on the issue and says he is starting a new campaign to get FIFA to stop allowing international soccer matches against Israel.

Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa arrives at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards at the Los Angeles Convention Center, March 14, 2021. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

The Grammy-winning British pop star — she is dating the Hadids’ younger brother, Anwar — also put several posts on her Instagram with the #SaveSheikhJarrah hashtag, according to Newsweek. In her Instagram stories she put a tweet by Sen. Bernie Sanders calling on the United States to “speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Halsey

Halsey arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in Newark, New Jersey August 26, 2019. (Photo by Charles Sykes/ Invision/ AP, File)

The pop singer known for hits like “Without Me,” which has well over a billion Spotify streams, tweeted a note that ends with #FreePalestine and argues that religion and “geopolitics” are not at the heart of the conflict: “It is not ‘too complicated to understand’ that brown children are being murdered + people are being displaced under the occupation of one of the most powerful armies in the world. It is willful ignorance to conflate these simple horrors with religion + geopolitics.”

Veena Malik

Actress Veena Malik in 2019. (Wikimedia commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0/ Zaib)

Malik is an actress and comedian who has starred in over a dozen Pakistani and Bollywood films. On Tuesday, she posted a series of tweets that seemed to rejoice in the violence against Israel — including one that quoted Hitler as saying: “I would have killed all the Jews of the world … but I kept some to show the world why I killed them.”

She also tweeted “#IronDome is doomed” with a laughing emoji, referencing Israel’s missile defense system, which has been overwhelmed by rockets fired from Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The tweets had been taken down as of Wednesday.

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