(RAHNUMA) Celebrities and high profile media figures continue to wade in on the ongoing situation in Israel-Palestine.
Most recently, the Palestinian-heritage model Bella Hadid was falsely accused of calling for Jewish people to be thrown into the sea by an official Israeli account, and Paris Hilton deleted a tweet in which she condemned the bombing of Gaza without explaining why.
Israeli air strikes in Gaza have now killed over 200 people, including 59 children, while rocket and anti-tank attacks from the besieged enclave have claimed the lives of 10 people in Israel. In the occupied West Bank, at least 12 Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers.
The deaths come amid scenes of Israeli police brutality against Palestinians protesting against the imminent eviction of six families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem.
As the crisis continues to worsen, scores of A-listers have spoken out on the situation but to mixed reactions.
In several cases, condemnation of the Israeli attacks was followed by an unexplained withdrawal of the initial comments.
On Sunday, American model Paris Hilton tweeted a Guardian article about Israel vowing not to stop Gaza attacks until there was “complete quiet” with the message: “This is so heartbreaking. This needs to stop! #SavePalestine #GazaUnderAttack #stopthegenocide.”
She followed it up by sharing a Middle East Eye video of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl breaking down after air strikes destroyed her neighbour’s house, killing eight children.
“This hurts my heart. No one should have to live in fear. My heart goes out to the little girl and the other children around her,” Hilton tweeted to her 17 million followers.
Hours later, both tweets disappeared and were replaced by the more general statement: “Sending love and light around the world. Praying for peace to make the world a better place for all.”
Several social media users praised Hilton for speaking out, but were disappointed by her later scaling back.
“Paris Hilton likely pressured into deleting her tweet describing Israel’s war crimes in Gaza as genocide and heartbreaking,” said Palestinian journalist Ahmed Eldin. “We need accountability more than we need prayers. We’ve been praying for 73 years.”
“If outside observers aren’t able to bring attention to the plight of the Palestinians without facing swift retribution, what chance do the Palestinians themselves have?” wrote commentator Hend Amry. “Don’t be silent. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth.”
Lewis Hamilton and Kendall Jenner delete posts
Hilton was not the only celebrity to delete posts related to Israel-Palestine in recent days.
Last Thursday, seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton posted on Instagram stating that he had “deliberately not posted about the devastating events that are happening in the Middle East simply because I do not fully understand it and me commenting on it won’t do anybody good”.
He said that he would educate himself on the situation, rather than sharing his “uneducated judgement”.
Two days later, he reposted an infographic from data company Statista which broke down the number of Israeli and Palestinian deaths and injuries since 2008.
He then followed it up by posting a graphic that showed the loss of Palestinian land between 1917 and the present day, with the text “Balfour > Nakba > Occupation,” accompanied by a broken heart emoji.
The latter post was deleted by Hamilton shortly after, with some social media users speculating that he may have come under pressure from sponsors and Formula One bosses.
Meanwhile, model and socialite Kendall Jenner was criticised for uploading and then deleting a post on Instagram which said that people could not advocacy for racial, LGBT and women’s equality “yet choose to ignore the Palestinian oppression”.
Others to delete content included actress and media personality Ayesha Curry, who is married to basketball star Steph Curry.
She reposted a highly inflammatory Instagram post directly from the Israeli military’s official @IDF account, which many deem as propaganda. It stated that “terrorist organisations in Gaza” were exclusively responsible for the death of Palestinian and Israeli civilians, and that Israel was “only targeting those responsible for the attacks”.
Curry deleted the post, and stated on Twitter that she was “misinformed by someone close to [her]” and that she was “now getting properly informed on the situation”.
Bella Hadid attacked by official Israel account
Unlike Jenner, fellow model Bella Hadid has consistently used her platform over the past two weeks to educate her 42 million Instagram followers on the Palestinian struggle.
It culminated on Saturday with the Palestinian-American star joining thousands of pro-Palestinians in New York City to protest against ongoing Israeli violence and occupation.
Hadid, who is of Palestinian heritage herself, has been widely praised by pro-Palestine activists, who believe that her outspoken shows of solidarity have proven that influencers and celebrities can speak out without fear of backlash.
She did however draw the ire of Israel’s official social media account, run by the foreign ministry’s digital diplomacy team, which falsely accused the model of wanting to throw Jewish people “into the sea”.
“When celebrities like Bella Hadid advocate for throwing Jews into the sea, they are advocating for the elimination of the Jewish State,” it said on Sunday, in a widely criticised tweet.
The accusation referred to Instagram live footage which showed Hadid joining in with the chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
A number of Twitter users called on Twitter to take action against the misinformation spread by the @Israel account.
“Truly bizarre. It takes two seconds to confirm she didn’t say that in the video,” said journalist Vincent Bevins.
In a reply to the initial tweet, @Israel sought to clarify on Monday that the chant was “used by those who call for the elimination of Israel”. However, many refused to buy that explanation.
Journalist Eldin said that the chant did not mention Israelis or Jews, but rather focused on “aspirations for Palestinian freedom and dignity” which he said “Israel and its allies willfully ignore by erasing our culture, existence and humanity.”
Palestinian advocates say that the slogan refers the political and geographic landscape of Palestine and Israel, not the ethnic or religious one.
Many on Twitter said that the Israeli response to Hadid’s activism showed that celebrity condemnation of Israel’s actions were making a difference.
“This is why celebrity influence is so important. When Bella Hadid got involved, they felt threatened,” wrote one user.
“Now imagine if internationally recognised celebs like Beyonce, Taylor Swift etc. say something. This is why statements from public figures are important right now.”
The popularity of pro-Palestinian celebrities is something that was even recognised by Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The models of Palestinian descent Gigi and Bella Hadid, with millions of followers, have been conducting antisemitic propaganda against Israel 24/7 since the beginning of the mess,” he tweeted on Friday.