Step one: non-Jewish celebrity visits Israel. Step two: said non-Jewish celebrity posts a picture of them in Israel on Instagram, and geo-tags “Israel” or writes something Israel-related. Step three: backlash.
Why this anti-Israel hatred is so virulent is a (long) essay for another time, but we’re here to break down all the types of backlash celebrities get when they even mention Israel. The non-Jewish part is key — it seems as though fans/commentators feel like they can convince The Celebrity that they’re wrong to even be in Israel and that they shouldn’t trust the Israelis (and the Jews). Unsurprisingly, this all easily dives into anti-Semitic territory, but it’s a prime example of the increasing polarization of the internet to anything related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A celebrity can’t so much as breathe in Israel without being attacked online.
Take Karlie Kloss’s recent Instagram of her trip to Israel (with boyfriend Josh Kushner, brother of Jared):
The post itself is very simple: a selfie of Karlie in front of a Jerusalem landscape, captioned with a blue heart (Israel’s state colors are blue and white), and geotagged Israel. Nothing offensive about this picture, right?
Wrong, according to the 2,000+ comments left on the post.
The comments fall into four categories:
1. Correcting the celebrity
This is by far the biggest type of comment on a celebrity’s post about Israel. Fans of non-Jewish celebrities feel like they can still be convinced to change their mind and denounce Israel, even though simply geotagging or visiting the country does not mean they support Israel or its policies.
More examples (all taken from the comments):
“It’s more proper called as Palestine. How poor you are Karlie! Pretty woman with no hearts and mercies!!! @karliekloss really dissapointed [sic] on you!!!!”
“karlie, sweetie i think you put the wrong location x🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸” “
“I look up to you and you are very intelligent and educated. You should know it is Palestine not Israel.”
“Karlie you are smart enough to know that’s Palestine ❤”
“Now I hate you because this is 🇵🇸 palestine 😾👐🏽 there isn’t something called israel”
“There is no such a thing called Israel it’s really obvious , especially when Israel try to prove it and will die to be recognized by other countries 🤣 keep lying to yourself Pinocchio. This is Palestine and Palestine is a country with a history and will always be weather you like it or not it’s a true fact and that’s enough for me. ♥”
“Nah KK, you know better than this. You are an intelligent woman. All the heat you got comin’ you deserve it. Free Palestine 🇵🇸”
“I’m unstanning u because of this. It will forever be palestine”
“Karlie ‘girl empowering’ kloss teach young girls how to code but doesn’t care about kids in palestine 🇸🇩 ?”
“Palestine bitch & yaa ur welcome for the unfollow”
“i will peacefully inform you that this is my country of origin, palestine. ✊✊🇵🇸”
You get the idea. This “polite” (or not polite) correcting of the celebrity happens, without fail, any time a non-Jewish celebrity posts about Israel.
This type of “correcting” comments are all over Kate Upton’s Instagram, who has also been posting from Israel — “There is no country in the world called Israel, you thieves, it is Palestine freedom,” and “Kate i think you are wrong there is nothing called Israel its Palestine and will still Palestine even people like u called it Israel.”
But this isn’t just a recent thing, these comments always appear whenever a non-Jewish celebrity visits Israel. Take when Britney Spears performed in Tel Aviv during the summer of 2017. She Instagrammed a picture of the audience:
And the backlash was swift:
“near to the that there is a place called Gaza where innocents children and mother are tortured and opressed by Israel, no good no water no electricity… No life!! #freepalestine“
“I hope the sound of the suffering palastinies [sic] didn’t interrupt the concert”
“How could you go to a country where they kill children and innocent people who can’t defend themselves. I’m not following you Miss Britney anymore”
“Shame on you @britneyspears playing on occupied land where Israeli forces are commuting genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian population. You’ve lost my vote #freepalestine #boycottisrael”
And on and on and on…
Another example: when model Ashley Graham visited Tel Aviv, and posted this glamorous selfie:
Her comments not only were anti-Israel, but just cruel:
“Israel? I just followed you and im going to unfollow your fat ass rn 😊”
“While youre in Israel, I hope you got to see the ugly side of the country. Free Palestine.”
“#FreePalestine unfollowing you immediately !”
Or when Kim Kardashian visited Israel with Kanye to baptize their daughter North, she posted (with no mention or geotag of Israel): “Baptizing North in Jerusalem in an Armenian church with our new baby in my belly was so special”
Yet, the comments appeared like clockwork:
“It’s Palestine not jerusalem just to your wrong info”
“Comment pouvez vous faire baptiser votre fille en Israël vous parlez du génocide arménien mais savez vous ce que l Israël fait subir aux palestiniens?!”
[Translation: How can you be baptized your daughter in Israel you talk about the Armenian Genocide but do you know what Israel is doing to the Palestinians ?!]
See what we mean?
One last example: When Conan O’Brien visited Israel (which led to an even bigger backlash, again, we don’t have the time here), he shared a series of Instagrams hashtagged #ConanInIsrael. While some definitely invited debate (like, a photo he shared with the IDF, or on the Syrian border), the one that struck me was when he Instagrammed himself with a bowl of hummus.
Quickly came the comments about Israel stealing hummus:
“This is a palestinian dish ! Asshole!!!”
“👏 HUMMUS 👏 IS 👏 NOT 👏 ISRAELI 👏”
“Hummus it’s Arabic name “حُمُّص ” refers to one of the famous Palestinian appetizers 🇵🇸”
“Oh glad it was filled with hummus instead of the blood of Palestinian people. Cause you know, you’re in “Israel””
“Man what the fuck are u doin ?!!! It’s a full Arab Palestinian dish”
“Hummus is an Arabic dish that Israel. Stole it”
“Hummus wasn’t made by Israeli nor Jews so I’m starting to feel like you believe that they created it when they didnt”
And of course….
“It’s palestine not israel”
2. Flag spam
(Screenshot from Karlie’s instagram)
Soon, the comments turn into a battle of 🇵🇸 vs. 🇮🇱. No need for examples; just picture hundreds of comments with either the Palestinian flag or the Israeli flag.
3. Yelling at others
Then, the fans start tagging each other in the comments, trying to refute points. They’re often in paragraph form.
Take some fights that happened on Karlie’s insta:
(Read at your own risk.)
One that made my head spin was where someone commented, tagged another commentator, and wrote: “If you have any common sense or in fact any idea about this issue, you can see a clear and distinct line between Israel and Judaism. They are not intertwined….”
The arguments just keep going on all the posts. Take this paragraph about the “sionists” on Ashley Graham’s insta:
Or, on Conan’s hummus insta:
There’s so much going on here: accusations atop of accusations. Honestly, they’re exhausting to read.
4. Pro-Israel messages
The last type of comment that appears is one that is unabashedly pro-Israel. From “Israel 💙s you Karlie 💙💙💙” to “Welcome to ISRAEL @karliekloss 🇮🇱🔥🇮🇱🔥🇮🇱🔥” to “There is no place like Israel 🇮🇱🇮🇱🇮🇱 enjoy.” This groups all the citizens of Israel as one entity that LOVES KARLIE KLOSS, but it’s indicative of a greater trend: that anytime any public figure (even better if it’s a popular celebrity) says something about Israel, this obviously demonstrates their undying love for the country and support for the state.
They also veer into the same tropes as #1. On Kate Upton’s Instagram of camels, there were people commenting back at the people saying “it’s Palestine” with comments like “Palestine is as real as Narnia… long live Israel! Great to have you hear [sic]. 🇮🇱❤🇮🇱❤🇮🇱❤” Obviously, this is just as toxic.
Nowhere did Karlie, Kate, Britney, Kim, Ashley, or Conan mention their views on Israel. Yet, some Israelis — at least, the ones commenting — take their visit as equivalent to them hanging an Israeli flag from their window.
What about Jewish celebrities, you ask?
Jewish, and Israeli, celebrities have it way worse. Take Gal Gadot, arguably the most famous Israeli in the world right now. She attended the Oscars this year, and someone posted on Twitter a picture of her with the caption “SHES REALLY TRYING TO KILL ME,” referencing the fact that she looked, simply put, amazing. Someone re-tweeted it and added the comment “she sure is if youre Palestinian.” It went viral.
This was literally a photo of Gal in her Oscars dress. But being Israeli is something she can’t escape.
Or take our favorite Jewish rapper, Drake. Earlier this month, he posted a seemingly harmless pun: “Hey what’s it like being a Jewish rapper from Canada…I told her the struggle Israel”
Underneath, the comments were — can you guess? — insane!
They ranged from classic flag spamming: “#FREEPALESTINE 🇵🇸 🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸” to “We love you drake❤✡🇮🇱🇮🇱🇮🇱🇮🇱🇮🇱🇮🇱.” They also talked of Intifada and revolution: “Not another Nickel not another dime / No more more money for israels crimee / There’s only one solution / Intifada revolution / Anti Zionism is not anti Judaism / From Palestine to Mexico / All the walls have got to go.” And of course, they all yelled at each other.
Moral of the story?
Don’t ever read the comments. And if you’re a celebrity traveling to Israel, don’t say we didn’t warn you.