Celebrities have weighed in on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, with few being as prolific and polarizing as Amy Schumer.

  • Culture
  • Sunday, 05 November 2023 15:26

Celebrities have weighed in on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, with few being as prolific and polarizing as Amy Schumer. The comedian's posts have, in a way, become a daily gauge of the ongoing tension on social media.

On October 7th, Amy Schumer posted her first Instagram post about the Israel-Hamas conflict, sharing a video depicting Hamas militants taking hostages after hundreds of people were killed at a music festival in Israel.

Over the course of almost a month, her nearly daily updates have made her one of the most prominent and well-known Americans using social media to express their opinions on the ongoing Middle East conflict. Even those who aren't following Schumer, who has 13.1 million followers on Instagram, have seen reposts, screenshots, celebrity comments in solidarity, and criticism across various online platforms.

Many celebrities who posted about the conflict faced backlash online from people who either criticized them for not saying enough or for sharing what some deemed to be the "wrong" perspective. Selena Gomez, the most popular woman on Instagram, recently announced she was taking a break from the platform after receiving a negative reaction to her statements.

This isn't the first time that celebrities have spoken candidly about current events and faced a backlash for their words. However, Schumer, who as of Friday had posted about the conflict more than 40 times on her Instagram and around five times on Twitter (including three reposts), has shown no signs of softening her stance.

The comedian, who is Jewish, has tied her identity to many of her posts, which have, in a way, become a daily marker of the ongoing tension on social media and throughout the United States, which remains heightened almost a month after the conflict began.

According to Israeli authorities, around 1,400 people in Israel were killed in the Hamas attack on October 7th, with 241 people held hostage. Since the start of the war in Gaza, over 9,000 people have died, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health.

Schumer's posts haven't significantly impacted her follower count. This month, she lost 45,000 Instagram followers, which is less than 1% of her total followers, according to Social Blade, a social media analytics company.

In the comments, some, including celebrities like Kathy Griffin and Sacha Baron Cohen, offered their support to Schumer, thanking her for raising the voice of the Jewish people. Other social media users labeled some of her posts as Islamophobic or accused Schumer of spreading hatred or misinformation.

This week, Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., directly addressed Schumer in her post, sharing her opinion on what her father's stance would be regarding the war. This came after Schumer shared a clip of Martin Luther King Jr. saying, "Israel must exist and has the right to exist and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world." In another clip, he condemns anti-Semitism as "wrong" and "unjust." King stated that while she and her father are against anti-Semitism, she believes her father would call for an end to Israeli bombings of Palestinians and the release of hostages.

Vadim Ali, a columnist for The Daily Beast, wrote in his recent article that Schumer "abused her influence to strike back and declare herself a victim."

The viral reactions were significant enough that some crisis communication experts said Schumer's reputation could suffer, and ultimately, she could serve as an example of what not to do in the future.

"If I had a client who was posting things that elicited a reaction like Amy Schumer's, regardless of how well-intentioned her intentions might have been — maybe she had the most sincere intentions — I would recommend they stop immediately," said Ryan McCormick, co-founder and PR specialist at Goldman McCormick PR, a public relations firm. McCormick does not represent Schumer and is not affiliated with her.

Representatives for Schumer did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.

In her latest Instagram post on Wednesday, Schumer addressed the negative reaction, stating that she wants the hostages held by Hamas to be "RETURNED" and wishes for "safety and freedom from Hamas for Palestinians and Israelis" and also desires peace.

"You will never see me wishing harm on anyone," she wrote. "To say that I am Islamophobic or that I condone genocide is madness."

However, some internet users claimed that their views on Schumer had already changed, noting two of her posts that she deleted after critics called them Islamophobic.

In one of the photos she shared, it claimed that Ivy League universities were the "largest recipients of $8.5 billion" in "Arab funding" and stated in the last paragraph that American university students were "currently overwhelmingly supporting Hamas" while condemning Israel. After the screenshot of the post was deleted, it continued to circulate on Twitter, with critics arguing that the infographic had no relevance to Israel or the Gaza Strip.

She also deleted an Instagram post featuring a political caricature depicting pro-Palestinian protesters with incendiary signs. One of the most prominent signs in the image read, "Gazans rape Jewish girls in self-defense." This post sparked outrage online from those who argued that focusing on Gazans rather than Hamas justified the deaths of innocent Gaza civilians.