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Celebrities stir passions with Gaza views
Published Wednesday 30/07/2014 (updated) 31/07/2014 09:51
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Barbadian singer Rihanna poses at the Hard Rock Cafe in Paris on
June 5, 2014 (AFP/Betrand Guay)
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Pop idols and professional athletes are going public with strong views about Gaza, putting their relations with fans on the line while stirring up a social media frenzy.

More often than not, celebrity sympathies have been leaning in favor of Palestinians as the Israeli assault on Hamas rolls into its fourth week and the death toll keeps rising.

Zayn Malik of the British boy band One Direction was the latest boldface name to voice his concern when he posted "#FreePalestine" on his Twitter account Sunday.

As of Tuesday, his message had been retweeted 220,000 times, and favorited just as often, among his 13 million followers worldwide.

But it also angered Israeli fans -- with some going so far as to make death threats against the 21-year-old heartthrob, a British-born Muslim of Pakistani heritage.

"People who don't live in Israel don't have any right to say their opinion out loud," tweeted one young woman, Shaked Erez, who added the hashtag #freeisrael for good measure.

"Your Tweet really broke me& I'm sure all the Israeli directioners 2. U made us very sad," added Stav Ben Shushan, who urged Malik to delete his tweet. He did not.

The roster of celebrities -- many not known for political activism -- weighing in on Gaza has grown since pop diva Rihanna and basketball star Dwight Howard tweeted #FreePalestine.

Social media gives celebrities unprecedented power to engage directly with millions of fans worldwide, said George Washington University media professor William Youmans.

"But when they wade into political matters, they run the risk of alienating a certain number of their fans," Youmans, who's been monitoring celebrity Gaza tweets, told AFP on Tuesday.

Deleted within minutes

Rihanna -- who performed in Tel Aviv last year -- deleted her post within minutes, as did Howard who declared that he'd made a mistake and that he would never comment again on global affairs.

Dance-pop songstress Selena Gomez meanwhile caused a stir with an image on her Instagram account that began: "It's About Humanity. Pray for Gaza."

Her post generated 654,000 likes -- but got the racy TMZ.com gossip website asking if the 21-year-old former Disney child star was "pro-humanity or pro-Hamas."

"Maybe she doesn't realize Hamas has launched an untold number of missiles in an effort to destroy Israel, or maybe she supports it," it said. "We don't know."

"I am not picking any sides," she responded on Instagram. "I am praying for peace and humanity for all!”

Israel is not without its defenders -- none fiercer than indefatigable comedienne Joan Rivers, who came out swinging when TMZ caught up with her at Los Angeles airport.

“Let me tell you, if New Jersey were firing rockets into New York, we would wipe them out,” said Rivers, 81, who went on to question if Gomez, 22, even knew how to spell Palestinian.

Back on Twitter, Omri Casspi, the first National Basketball Association player born in Israel, put his feelings in capital letters.

"600 missiles been fired from GAZA by Hamas in the last 4 days. NUMBERS DONT LIE. STOP LYING," he said in a July 13 tweet that is still in place.

As it happens, Casspi used to play alongside Howard for the Houston Rockets; he's now with the Sacramento Kings in California.

Oday Aboushi, a Palestinian-American offensive lineman for the New York Jets American football team, has also been speaking out, again on Twitter where he has 6,100 followers.

"Eid's just not the same this year. Knowing what Israel is doing to Palestinians on a daily basis," he wrote Monday, referring to the Muslim holiday that follows Ramadan.

Meanwhile, as the fighting in Gaza raged, Israeli news media reported last week that pop svengali Simon Cowell opened his wallet to the tune of $150,000 for an Israeli soldiers' charity at a Los Angeles fund-raiser last year.

Cowell, a polarizing figure at the best of times, hasn't commented.
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1 ) Lina / Palestine
30/07/2014 09:56
"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." Voltaire

2 ) Sharief / South Africa
30/07/2014 11:08
The only reason why Israel is still on the map is because there are people within Israel who is praying for the Palestinians.

3 ) Jodie / US
30/07/2014 11:56
Many celebraties support Gaza, it comes to something when they are afraid to exercise freedom of speech to comply with their Jewish bosses who blackmail them with a end to there career if they speak up against the crimes of Israel. Once again the Zionists need lies to cover there lies!

4 ) Levi / USA
30/07/2014 16:45
Celebrities with nice bodies and faces and no brains.

5 ) David / USA
30/07/2014 17:16
How is it that these entertainers have such empty heads? Do we hear "Free Tibet" or "Free Ukraine" or "Free Cyprus" or "Free Syria?" (Or Lebanon or Iraq?) Don't these clowns know that Hamas's declared reason for existence is to destroy Israel and nothing else? This is a religious war, nothing less. Hamas wants infidels out of dar al-Islam, even though Islam conquered the region by the sword and forced everyone to convert, pay the jizya, leave, or die. What a choice! FREEGAZAFROMHAMAS!

6 ) David / USA
30/07/2014 17:53
Lina, did you ever tell Hamas not to attack Israel? Sharif, your comment doesn't even deserve a comment. Jodie, most celebrities couldn't point out Gaza on a map. Their opinions are just talking points to keep their faces in front of the public. It's a stunt, nothing more. Levi, you hit the nail on the head.

7 ) Outlier / USA
30/07/2014 18:28
Anyone who allows a celebrity to influence them is dumber than soup.

8 ) Obviously worried about money / from Israel
30/07/2014 22:07
...Rihanna -- who performed in Tel Aviv last year -- deleted her post within minutes, as did Howard who declared that he'd made a mistake and that he would never comment again on global affairs... TOO SHALLOW FOR SURE!!!

9 ) Joe / USA
30/07/2014 22:42
@ David it is not a religious war. You are a liar you perverted the facts. All Palestinians including Hamas are fighting for their right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They do not want to be in an open air prison, (concentration camp.) they want nothing more than freedom to do business, work, and live a life without fear.The only religious reason actions they live by is the right to defend theirselves along with all people in this world. Stop lying, people are smarter than that.

10 ) shirley / australia
30/07/2014 23:22
funny how when it is a celebrity who supports isreal is great but when not are useless and as hamas agreed to 2 states the useless old isreali line about wanting to destroy isreal is redundant lies just rehashing old garbage maan best defence of palestine is to educate people that 2 states exsisat that palestine statew is no 194 of the united nations and fionish off this hamas terrorist destroy isreal propaganda once and for all yoiu are good at blocking some comments why not the anti hamas crap

11 ) Ameen / Palestine
31/07/2014 00:21
The Jewish criminals who support the killing of Palestinian children, women and the eldery of Gaza are afraid of celebrities who voice their support to Gaza. That's typical of dumb Israelis who think that their blackmail is going to win them sympathy by the world. Everyone knows now that Israel is a terrorist state and its Nazi leaders are war criminals that must be hunted down and brought to justice.

12 ) Maureen / Australia
31/07/2014 00:33
#5 David "Fee Ukraine," from Revisionist Zionist warmongers?

13 ) Carl / US
31/07/2014 02:09
My President just resupplied the Israelis with ammunition. Good news is that they were running out. Stop the US and Israel is toast...absolutely without hope if their American handler cut them loose! And they will...the US knows how to avoid going down with their client bullies.

14 ) RealityCheck / theworld
31/07/2014 05:03
To #3, and this is why Anti-Zionism today is the new anti-Semitism. Your post is nice mix of plain old anti Semitism, with a dash of Jewish stereotypes, topped off with some nice anti-Zionist sentiments. At least your not one of those Jew haters that pretends to only hate Zionists, like Mel and Colin, your the real deal, you just think anything jew related is evil. Seems a lot of people see it like that judging by the amount of violence against Jews worldwide since the operation started.

15 ) #9 / Liar
31/07/2014 05:15
All Palestinians just want "the right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", who's the one spreading lies, lol. Hamas seeks purely the destruction of the jewish state and you talk of Palestinians like they are innocent, harmless, hippies, being subject to draconian style torture just because Israel was having a slow day and decided to kill a few hundred people. Hamas was voted into power which means the majority support terror and the destruction of Israel, so go sell crazy elsewhere.

16 ) #9 / canada
31/07/2014 05:23
"They do not want to be in an open air prison, (concentration camp.) " and people in hell want ice water... If they would have spent some time over the last 70 years trying something other than destroying Israel they could have had liberty and peace and happiness. And another thing, Im assuming you used the term concentration camp to draw a parallel between Israel and Nazi Germany, but if the Jews were like Nazi's there would be no Palestinian problem because they would all be dead, wise up...

17 ) Reader / from Edmonton
31/07/2014 06:40
Stop the blockade and end the occupation of Palestine: the price of peace. Murdering the Palestinians is wrong and will never result in a just resolution.

18 ) Lina / Palestine
31/07/2014 06:50
David, I dread to imagine what Israel would do if it were under occupation & if it would be submitted to such living conditions that we see in Gaza! Israel would call it 'the Divine right of self defense' and would have been backed by the corporate media & the international community. I personally do not support any violent solution, but any people have the right to resist occupation & this is international law.

19 ) Randi / NJ
31/07/2014 09:49
I guess I'm older than you David. Free dot, dot,dot..must be from my generation but it needed to be used. Gazans do not. Um....try this one on for size: Never Again? um.....for whom.
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