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8 Surprising Celebrities Outraged by Israel's Assault on Gaza

The growing number of stars speaking out signals that mainstream American opinion is shifting on Israel.
 
 
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Actor John Cusack in Berlin in 2009.
Photo Credit: SpreePiX/Fotopedia

 
 
 
 

Hollywood is not known as a bastion of pro-Palestinian sentiment. There has not been any hugely successful mainstream, major motion picture that accurately depicts the plight of Palestinians. Actress Vanessa Redgrave was harshly condemned for her remarks that criticized Israel in the 1970s.

But that may be changing. Since Israel’s most recent assault on the Gaza Strip began 15 days ago, a growing number of celebrities in the television and movie business and other fields have spoken out, mostly on social media, about Israeli attacks. Their missives have been amplified by their audiences who retweet and share the critical messages.

The images of dead Palestinian civilians, including many innocent men, women and children, is badly damaging Israel’s largely positive image in the United States. And while the U.S. government is still staunchly supporting the attack on Gaza, which has killed more than 600 people, the growing number of celebrities speaking out in protest may signal that mainstream American opinion is shifting--albeit slowly--towards more sympathy for Palestine. That could have an important impact on discourse and U.S. policy towards Israel in the long-run.

Here’s a rundown of 8 celebrities who have recently expressed outrage or skepticism at the Israeli assault.

1. Selena Gomez. The 22-year-old actress and singer has appeared in popular movies for children like Spy Kids and was a guest star on the TV show Hannah Montana. She also attracted attention for dating pop star Justin Bieber.

On July 18th, she attracted attention for a starkly different reason: an Instagram post that read: “It’s about humanity. Pray for Gaza.” A firestorm erupted around her, with celebrity news site TMZ asking whether Gomez was “pro-Hamas.” Unlike other stars--Rihanna and NBA player Dwight Howard--she did not delete her message, though she followed up on it with another Instagram post that read: “And of course to be clear, I am not picking any sides. I am praying for peace and humanity for all!”

2. Jon Stewart. While the “Daily Show” host hasn’t exactly expressed outright criticism of Israel’s attack, his episode last week addressed the notion that the people of Gaza should evacuate to safety. “Evacuate to where? Have you fucking seen Gaza? Israel blocked this border, Egypt blocked this border. What, are you supposed to swim for it?”

Stewart followed up on that segment with another one this week that pointed out the deeply contentious nature of criticizing Israel. In the segment, right after Stewart mentioned Israel, “Daily Show” correspondents started screaming at him and attacking him, with one calling him a “self-hating Jew.”

3. Rob Schneider. This movie star and comedian has sent out messages on Twitter deploring the impact that Israel’s assault has had on the civilians in Gaza. “The ugly inhuman siege of Gaza has had it's deadliest day today,” he wrote on July 20. The next day, he said: “To not be outraged at the killing of children is to risk your very soul. #Gaza.”

4. Rosie O’Donnell. The big news about Rosie is that she’s returning to ABC’s “The View.” But her return to the limelight hasn’t meant that she has stepped away from voicing political opinions.

On July 22, she retweeted a message sent by this reporter broadcasting an act of civil disobedience carried out by Jewish New Yorkers outraged at Israel’s attacks on Gaza. She also sent out a few of her own messages on Gaza the same day. One linked to an interview where Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, who told ABC: “It’s nothing short of a massacre, a deliberate massacre. War crimes committed daily. But now there is a deliberate shelling and bombing and destruction of whole areas, of residential areas.”

 
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