Within just minutes of going online, a tweet by Zayn Malik managed to cause a storm of Middle East controversy for the One Direction singer Monday.
Several weeks into Israel’s deadly military assault on Gaza, which has seen more than 1,000 Palestinians and 50 Israelis killed, Malik tweeted the message ‘#FreePalestine’ to his 13 million followers, seemingly showing his solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
The message sparked an immediate angry response from fans in Israel, with some suggesting One Direction would lose its fan base in the country and others going even further. Among the more incensed reactions was one suggesting Malik “kill himself” and another threatening, “let me kill you.”
Unlike Rihanna, who tweeted #FreePalestine to her 36 million followers earlier this month only to take it down eight minutes later after a barrage of irate replies, Malik left his message online. It has racked up more than 190,000 retweets so far. While among the more succinct, Malik isn’t the only celebrity to voice his support for Palestine.
A growing number of famous faces from the entertainment world are speaking out against Israel’s ongoing offensive in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Today, a group of Spanish actors and directors wrote an open letter to the European Union urging that action be taken in Gaza. Stars including Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and director Pedro Almodovar described the Israeli campaign as "genocide" in a strongly worded statement.
Mark Ruffalo last week tweeted a link to a news article about Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s el-Wafa hospital. After coming under attack from pro-Israeli commentators, the Hulk actor responded with the message: “Sorry, I thought blowing up hospitals was something that all human being could agree was off limits.”
Rob Schneider, Mia Farrow and John Cusack are others who have tweeted messages condemning the deaths in Gaza, with Farrow saying: “We can passionately protest Israel’s assault upon Gaza without descending, even remotely, into the hideousness of anti-Semitism.”
Selena Gomez turned to Instagram, posting a photo that read “It’s about humanity, pray for Gaza,” later saying she was not “picking any sides” after facing online criticism, including from Joan Rivers.
In a video released by freedom4palestine.org, a group including Chuck D, Ken Loach, Mira Nair, Desmond Tutu, Roger Waters, Brian Eno and Naomi Klein hold up cards with the names and ages of Palestinian civilians recently killed in Gaza. The UN estimates that more than 70 percent of those who have lost their lives in the fighting were civilians, including more than 220 children and 110 women.
British comedian Russell Brand posted a seven-minute YouTube video on the topic, saying that the reduction of the Palestinian territories since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 was “pretty harrowing,” later adding that the only way to have a positive impact is for the West “to not provide military or financial assistance to either side, to condemn violence on both sides and insist on a peaceful solution.”