Celebrities Speaking Out About Gaza: Bad Idea?

Recently a number of celebrities have spoken out about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — but some question whether those comments are informed.

Celebrities Speaking Out About Gaza: Bad Idea?
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The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has littered news coverage for weeks as the fighting worsens. 

​But stateside, what's being said about the conflict and who is saying it has become a hot topic throughout media coverage. The most recent, and perhaps most controversial, comes from notoriously big-mouthed comedian Joan Rivers after a paparazzo mentioned the roughly 2,000 people, including civilians, who have lost their lives on the Gaza Strip in the past month. 

Her reply, at least in part: "You're dead, you deserve to be dead." 

And like most of River's controversial "jokes," this one took on a life of its own. 

Later she addressed her comments on Facebook, basically standing by what she said and blaming media coverage: "I am both saddened and disappointed that my statement about the tragedy of civilian casualties was totally taken out of context. ... The media, as usual, has decided to only quote the most out of context and inflammatory non sequitur rather than giving an accurate account of what my intentions were behind the statement."

You can find her entire rant on just about any celebrity news site. But for our part, we've seen the video and can definitely understand criticism that her words were at the very least insensitive.

As we mentioned, Rivers isn't the only celeb who's had something to say about the conflict. Rihanna posted this after deleting a more controversial tweet: #FreePalestine.

Dwight Howard tweeted the same hashtag. Backlash followed, and 15 minutes later, the NBA star took down the tweet and apologized, saying he's never commented on international politics. Guess he meant "until now."

Selena Gomez Instagrammed a message to pray for Gaza. However, she didn't delete it. 

Instead, she issued a statement that she is "not picking any sides."

 And perhaps most bold, Penelope Cruz and her husband, Javier Bardem, were two of many who signed an open letter published by Spanish news site Europa Press. The letter condemned Israeli actions as "genocide," claiming, "Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air." 

​​That wasn't taken lightly by actor Jon Voight, who called the open letter "ignorant" in a guest column on The Hollywood Reporter.  

Cruz later released a statement via her rep, admitting, "I'm not an expert on the situation and I'm aware of the complexity of it." Yet she still signed a letter. That seems to be the trend. 

Madonna also spoke out on Facebook, calling for a cease-fire for "the innocent children of GAZA." 

It's a conflict that's been full of side-taking, and commenting on it can be an open door for criticism. 

For example: when it comes to the seemingly innocuous phrase "pray for Gaza":

HARVEY LEVIN VIA TMZ: "When you say 'pray for Gaza,' there is an issue that there have been more than 1,400 rockets launched at Israel. ... So there are problems on both sides."

​As a rabbi in LA told The Times of Israel, it's easy for people, like celebs, to mislead others with opinions on topics they might not fully be informed about. 

"There are many people who are out there that are not involved in Middle East politics, don't know anything about it, and they form their opinions on the basis of what their favorite celebrity says."

And that — as we've seen — might not always be the most in-depth source of information.