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Gal Gadot, Kylie Jenner, Mark Ruffalo: Israel-Palestine war leaves celebrities divided

Several Hollywood stars, athletes and singers face a backlash for supporting Israel, while others are praised for their nuanced take on the conflict
Actress and model Gal Gadot attends the premiere of the movie Barbie in Los Angeles in July 2023 (AFP)

Celebrities including Hollywood A-listers, influencers, and pop stars have been giving their opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after fighters from the besieged Gaza Strip shocked Israel with their unprecedented land, air and sea assault on Saturday.

Influencer and fashion mogul Kylie Jenner found herself at the centre of a social media storm when she shared a now-deleted post expressing support for Israel.

The Instagram post featured the Israeli flag alongside the message: "Now and always, we stand with the people of Israel." 

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Jenner's stance drew widespread criticism.

Many questioned her understanding of Israel's 75-year occupation of the Palestinian territories. 

One social media user wrote: "Kylie Jenner wouldn't know where the Middle East is on a map but is letting her 400 million Instagram followers know she stands with Israel."

Kylie Jenner attends the Met Gala in New York in May 2023 (AFP)

Israeli actress and star of Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, who has previously shown support for the Israeli army, was also criticised for her response to the latest bout of violence. 

"I stand with Israel you should too," Gadot posted on Instagram.

"The world cannot sit on the fence when these horrific acts of terror are happening," she said. "My heart is aching. Praying for all of those in pain."

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Gadot's comment section has since been flooded with users writing "Free Palestine" and messages featuring the Palestinian flag emoji.

Comedian Sarah Silverman expressed her concern for her sister, nieces and nephews, who have been protesting against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial judicial reform plans for months. 

"Fight for a two state solution. Israelis are Jews and Arabs and all colours," she said.

Silverman also acknowledged the nuanced complexity of the conflict before denouncing Hamas' mission statement.

Mark Ruffalo, who has played the Hulk in several Marvel blockbuster films including The Avengers franchise, was also criticised for blaming both sides for the latest escalation.

Taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, the usually pro-Palestine actor shared a message from journalist and author Nathan Thrall, which said: "It is horrific to see innocent civilians killed and held hostage, and there is no justification for it.

"We pray for their safety, as we pray for the safety of the innocent people of Gaza who are being bombarded and besieged."

​ Mark Ruffalo consistently uses his platform to speak out on events in Israel-Palestine (AFP)

Professional boxer and model Younes Bendjima criticised the idea of blaming both sides for the fighting, writing: "I'd love to but I can't... there's only one side."

He went on to highlight the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, restrictions on movement, the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, and the presence of Israeli snipers in the occupied territories.

Bendjima also emphasised the disparity in international support, noting that Palestinians don't enjoy the backing of the United States.

He also drew attention to the constant presence of Israeli warplanes in the region, which fly over the Palestinian territories making, he said, "kids wet their beds in fear".

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Former New Zealand rugby international player Sonny Bill Williams posted: "Praying for Gaza!" accompanied with a Palestinian flag.

Meanwhile, US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad shared a quote from Malcolm X which read: "If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." 

​Ibtihaj Muhammad speaks onstage at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in August 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia (AFP) ​

However, Arsenal and Ukrainian full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko found himself mired in controversy when he reposted an image from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs featuring the Star of David.

Alongside the image, his story read: 'I stand with Israel.' 

But after he was met with a fierce backlash from his own fans, Zinchenko removed the comments and made his account private.

'When you hurt children, your cause is doomed'

Singers also weighed in with mixed reactions to the conflict.

Swedish singer Zara Larsson drew attention to what she perceived as a double standard in international reactions to conflicts, posting on her story: "Oh so it's stand with Ukraine when Russia invades but not Palesti-." 

Larsson's remarks shed light on the wider issue of the West's inconsistent response to various conflicts.

The fashion influencers Simi & Haze Khadra shared a similar sentiment, reposting a series of slides on their social media platform, highlighting human rights violations endured by Palestinians.

They noted that "absolute Zionist thinking collapses conversation and villainizes empathy for a Palestinian population that has extensively experienced torture, kidnapping, murder and other oppressive colonialist tactics at the hands of an apartheid state for decades."

However, singer Boy George expressed support for Israel, writing: "When you hurt women, children, and the elderly, your cause is doomed. I stand with Israel." 

His remarks were met with criticism by several social media users who responded with lists of the women, children, and elderly killed by Israeli forces in recent months and years.

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