Influencer Montana Tucker criticized for hostage awareness skincare promo video

A rep for the social media star, who has advocated for the captives since Oct. 7, says the visit to Raz Ben Ami was not for pay, but the clip still rubs some viewers the wrong way

Montana Tucker attends the 31st Annual Race to Erase MS Gala held at Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California on May 10, 2024. (Michael Tran / AFP)
Montana Tucker attends the 31st Annual Race to Erase MS Gala held at Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California on May 10, 2024. (Michael Tran / AFP)

JTA — Since October 7, Montana Tucker has represented the growing role of social media influencers in the sprawling effort to advocate for Israel.

Tucker, who has more than 3 million followers on Instagram (in addition to 9 million on TikTok), has uploaded videos and photos from the communities devastated by Hamas’s attack and from Auschwitz. She has posted speeches at rallies and tried to interview people at campus protests. At the Grammys in February, she wore a large yellow ribbon over her dress displaying the words “Bring them home.”

But her latest advocacy effort for Israeli hostages is dividing her pro-Israel fans — because in addition to featuring the harrowing story of a woman who was taken captive with her husband, the video also promotes a skincare product.

“Raz and Ohad have 3 beautiful daughters who did/do everything they can to bring back their dad/ remaining hostages, and take care of their mom,” Tucker wrote in the caption to the video, uploaded on Thursday. “@freskincare is not only an incredible, clean, and Israeli skincare brand, but it is Raz’s favorite.”

The video — and response to it — showcase the thorny questions raised by the melding of influencer culture and pro-Israel advocacy during a brutal war and hostage crisis. Many of Tucker’s followers praised the video and her months of efforts to raise awareness of the captives’ plight, as well as a gesture of goodwill by the skincare brand. Some others lambasted her for, in their view, using a traumatized family’s story as an opportunity to promote a beauty regimen.

“This is just vile and unconscionable,” human rights lawyer and Israel advocate Arsen Ostrovsky wrote on X. “How dare you @montanatucker come here to Israel to profit of [sic] the grief and massacre of our people. Have you no shame?”

Another user who responded to Ostrovsky’s post saw it differently. “She has done so much for our cause in social media since the war started, and because she did something for someone in partnership with a brand, you’re jumping down her throat,” he wrote. “Pick a fight with the correct people, this isn’t one of them!”

TikTok influencer Montana Tucker (right) with her mother at the former German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. (courtesy)

The video starts like many of the other hostage testimonies that have emerged since October 7, when Hamas-led terrorists killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and kidnapped 252 to Gaza. Raz Ben Ami, 57, sitting on a couch with her three daughters, recalls hiding in a bomb shelter during the Hamas onslaught, and discusses her and her husband Ohad’s abduction from Kibbutz Be’eri.

Ben Ami was released during a hostage exchange in late November. Her husband remains in captivity.

“We miss him very much,” Ben Ami, who is wearing a shirt calling for Ohad’s release, says in the video. “We’re working very hard to get him back. We hope he’s still OK.”

The video then pans to Mickael Bensadoun, CEO of the Israeli skincare brand Fré, who is sitting next to Tucker. “We are praying for the release of all hostages,” Bensadoun says. “This is the least we can do.”

Freed hostage Raz Ben-Ami speaks at the Hostages and Missing Families Forum protest in Tel Aviv’s Hostages’ Square on March 30, 2024. (YouTube screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Bensadoun goes on to explain that while Raz was in captivity, her daughter Yulie, 27, had reached out to the company, “saying that she would love her mother to get some Fré products when she’s back. Our head of customer support showed me this message. I think I wanted to give all Fré to you.”

Tucker responds, “There are a million skin care brands, but I think what makes a brand so special is when there is a personal story.” Later, she hugs Ben Ami and says, “You are amazing, really, you inspire me so much.”

At the end of the video, Tucker asks for permission to rub some cream from the brand on Ben Ami’s face. Tucker reassures her that her hands are clean. Ben Ami responds, with a laugh, “I’ve been in Gaza.”

The video concludes with the group shouting, in unison, “We love Fré!”


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A post shared by Montana Tucker (@montanatucker)

The post has garnered many positive reactions, praising Tucker for bringing attention to the atrocities of October 7 and the plight of the hostages.

“@montanatucker Do you even know how much this means to every Jew in the world?,” one user wrote on Instagram. “The fact that you’re getting their stories out there for ALL to hear and see! Thank you so much for EVERYTHING you’re doing for your community!”

Tucker shared the video during a week when Israel Defense Forces soldiers recovered hostages’ bodies from the city of Rafah. The same day Tucker’s video went up, the families of five young women hostages released a video showing their capture by Hamas, sparking heightened pressure on the Israeli government to negotiate their release.

In light of the dire news, some people objected to Tucker featuring hostages in a video promoting beauty products.

“After you thought you’ve seen it all, watch this video and see how some people and the brands they’re pushing apparently have no problem capitalizing on the backs of people who have been to hell and back,” Yaakov Katz, the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, wrote on X.

In response to an inquiry from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a representative for Tucker said that Ben Ami and Tucker had met at a recent rally for the hostages’ release before meeting in the temporary housing where the Ben Ami family has been living following the destruction of their home on October 7.

“She wanted her story told, her husband’s story, told by Montana,” said the representative, who gave her name as Michelle. “She always goes to their houses.”

The representative added that the idea for the video came from Fré and that Tucker was not paid to go to the house.

“It was totally a mitzvah thing,” she said. “She will always be there for the hostages until everyone’s home.”

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