The celebrity response to the unprecedented and heart-wrenching war in Israel, that started with a horrific surprise attack by Hamas on Saturday, October 7, has been, well, unprecedented. From the magnitude of stars who have voiced their support — including many non-Jewish stars like Madonna, Bono and Kylie Jenner — to the thoughtfulness, nuance and poignancy of so many of them is not something we’re used to seeing.
I’m not usually one to say that you should take political guidance from people just because they’re famous, and I really don’t believe that we need to agree politically with everything celebrities do or say to love them or enjoy their contributions to the culture. But I do feel there’s a lot of beautiful wisdom and humanity in some of these responses. This article can’t possibly encompass all of the celebrity reactions to the situation, but here are some of the more notable ones.
“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot has been inundating her Instagram with posts about the situation in Israel. As the biggest Israeli star in Hollywood right now, she’s often been criticized for her silence during terror and missile attacks, and during the governmental crisis that has been taking place in the country this past year (she’s also been criticized and sent hateful comments whenever she has written about the situation, as you can tell by the comments on her recent Instagram posts). “My heart is aching,” she wrote in one of the posts. “Praying for all of those in pain.” She’s also solicited donations for the Jewish Agency for Israel, writing “whoever can, and willing to donate, these peoples lives changed forever yesterday.”
“I stand with Israel and you should too,” she wrote in another Instagram post. “The world cannot sit on the fence when these horrific acts of terror are happening!”
Jewish actress and director Zoe Lister-Jones wrote one of the most nuanced and heartfelt progressive Jewish posts on this situation. It perfectly touches on how hard it is to talk about Israel and Palestine as a Jewish person, but also is uncompromising about its values and morals around the abject horror that we are all witnessing. Zoe’s post has been shared and lauded by many celebrities, including Ricki Lake and Ilana Glazer. She also shared a very poignant post about the fear she, and all of us, are experiencing.
Actress, director and Kveller contributor Mayim Bialik was offline for Shabbat when the attack first started, as many Jews were. She shared a message expressing her horror: “There are no words to communicate the immense pain and horror Israel is experiencing,” she wrote. “I pray for peace of Jerusalem and Israel, for the kidnapped civilians and for our soldiers — my family among them — defending our right to exist. May we see a day when bloodshed will cease and we will teach war no more.”
She finished with the Hebrew “am yisrael chai” — the people of Israel live on.
She also shared a video of herself reciting the Shema prayer:
The Israeli-American actress wrote that her “heart is shattered for the people of Israel. Children women and the elderly have been murdered and abducted from their own homes. I am in horror at these barbaric acts and my heart is pounding with love and prayer for the families of all affected.”
Jewish songstress Regina Spektor had some pretty sharp words to share with her followers. “If you’ve devalued Jewish life so much that mourning murdered Jewish children at a festival… and the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust has offended you — leave. If you think that this was ‘a result,’ ‘deserved,’ or some other freakish [and] heartless ideas — you’ve dehumanized Jewish people living in Israel to a point where you yourself have lost much humanity.”
“I will not miss you listening to my music or your presence here. We are simply not for each other. If I was there — a Jewish dead civilian, then to you — I’d be just another dead Jew who had it coming. But remember that the people torturing, kidnapping, murdering Jews in Israel today — are Islamic Extremist terrorists. They hate you, too.”
The legend that is Barbra Streisand shared the following message on her Instagram and Twitter: “The population of Israel is under 10 million people. There are over 700 confirmed Israeli dead from this terrorist attack on civilians. The equivalent in the US would be over 25,000 dead in New York City on 9/11.”
She also asked her followers to donate to the Jewish Federations of LA. Barbra has always been politically outspoken and she’s always been an advocate for peace in Israel and Palestine. Back in 2013, she sang her incredible version of “Avinu Malkeinu,” at a concert in Israel, in part as a prayer for peace.
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) October 10, 2023
Comedian Alex Edelman is one of the few Jewish celebrities who have really been on the frontlines in the recent battle for the face of Israel’s democracy. The message that he shared, in my opinion, is perfectly worded. He captioned it with “there’s more to say about the geopolitical stuff I’m sure I’m just not the guy. I’m not the guy for this but I can’t say nothing.”
The bottom line for Edelman was this: “to excuse or justify war crimes strips both victims and perpetrators of their humanity. So don’t.”
Edelman has also said that he is trying to answer as many messages as he can that are asking for help, and has been sharing heartfelt, periodic updates in his Instagram stories.
Madonna is one of the biggest non-Jewish celebrities to write a personal message on the situation, which she called “devastating.”
“Watching all of these families and especially children being herded, assaulted and murdered in the streets is heartbreaking,” she wrote. “Imagine if this was happening to you??”
“Conflicts can never be resolved with violence,” she added, writing that her heart “goes out to Israel” and to the “families and homes that have been destroyed.”
“I am aware that this is the work of Hamas and there are many innocent people in Palestine who do not support this terrorist organization,” she continued. “Let us all Pray. For Israel,” she wrote, “for peace, and for the world.”
Actor and singer Mandy Patinkin who, along with his wife Kathryn Grody, is a strong supporter of refugees, has been criticized in the past for being critical of Israel. On Wednesday, he posted the following moving message on his Instagram: “Our hearts are broken. We cannot imagine what it is to live with terror on our doorstep, and the combination of grief and pain and fear and rage when families are callously murdered or taken hostage. For millennia, our people have had to flee and to live with terror.”
“It’s not lost on us that the victims of war are every person on either side who simply long for a home and for the sense of safety and belonging that all of us long for,” he added. “War asks us to dehumanize the other, so what we’re focusing on is the humanity of every woman, man, and child who didn’t ask for this, who didn’t do this, who will not grow old to see their grandchildren grow up, as we are able to see ours. We stand for peace, and believe it is the only path by which we will ever get out of this.”
“Stranger Things” star Noah Schnapp, who had his bar mitzvah in Israel, visited the country earlier this year. He wrote a personal message about the kind of responses he has been getting after sharing his support of Israel on Instagram the last few days.
“As a Jewish American, I am afraid. Afraid for my brothers and sisters in Israel, who have been senselessly attacked by Hamas,” he wrote. “Like others, want peace for both Palestinians and Israelites. Let’s stop the rhetoric and choosing sides.”
“I just reposed a beautiful picture of a young innocent girl whose life was taken by Hamas at a music festival,” he shared. “I was met with comments reading ‘no one cares free Palestine’ and ‘she deserves that, and every Israeli terrorist deserves that,’ along with a laughing emoji.
“I am outraged at the justification and celebration of the death of a young girls life. Have people lost their minds??? STOP!”
“You don’t have to be Jewish, you don’t have to be Israeli, you just have to have empathy and common sense to know that THIS is wrong.” Schnapp continued, also decrying the silence he has seen from some fellow celebrities. He added, “While you chant ‘Gas the Jews,’ we will say a Jewish prayer for peace for all Israelis and Palestinians.”
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis, whose father, Tony Curtis, was Jewish, posted her support for Israel merely by sharing the Israeli flag on Saturday. She later shared the images of some of the captives, and messages from the ADL.
Mark Ronson, music producer extraordinaire and the man who helped give us the gifts that are Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and the “Barbie” soundtrack, shared that the night before the attack, he was celebrating Sukkot at his local synagogue and “shook the lulav to send a blessing out to all of creation.”
“To wake up the next morning to videos and photos of the cruelest, most evil destruction imaginable, perpetrated against people” who were observing the same holidays, he wrote, was “beyond devastating.” He said he was horrified by the “barbaric violence” of Hamas, but also shared that he was just as horrified by the escalation of the cycle of violence that will hurt both Israelis and Palestinians.
“I’m also appalled and depressed by the level of Anti-Semitism that is running rampant right now, both online and off.” He wrote that he was in mourning, and shared some posts from others that have helped him process, including a post by Mandana Dayani that was shared by many celebrities, including Debra Messing and Amy Schumer.
If you haven’t heard Bono’s beautiful words and singing about the victims of the Supernova concert at a U2 concert this past weekend, you absolutely need to. Just prepare those tissues.
Israeli actress Yael Grobglas, of “Jane the Virgin” and Hallmark Hanukkah movie fame, shared a message of solidarity and heartbreak following the Saturday attack. She then shared some of the awful responses she got from people in a follow-up post; among other things commenters told her that they hope Hitler comes back to “finish his job” and that the victims of the attack “got what they deserve.”
“How are people celebrating this. Justifying this. Hamas is Isis. Would you celebrate this if this happened anywhere else?” she asked her followers. “My family is in and out of the bomb shelter. My friends are begging for information about loved ones who are missing dead or taken hostage. Everyone I know knows someone. This isn’t free speech. This is calls to violence. And should be treated as such. IF YOU SUPPORT THIS ATTACK, YOU ARE SUPPORTING A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION.”
Lior Raz, the star and creator of “Fauda” posted a myriad of statements on his Instagram stories. He also shared a harrowing video of him and collaborators Yohanan Plesner and Avi Yissascharov as they ducked during missile fire in Sderot, in the South of Israel.
He wrote that the three of them “headed down south to join hundreds of brave ‘Brothers in Arms’ [the name of a military veteran organization] volunteers who worked tirelessly to assist the population in the south of Israel. We were sent to the bombarded town of Sderot to extract two families. No fear!”
Seth Meyers, who is famously mistaken for a Jew despite not being one, is married to a Jewish woman and raising Jewish children. He posted the following on his Instagram stories.
“Years ago, I visited Israel for my wife’s cousin’s wedding. It was a celebration of love and life I will never forget,” he wrote. “That same cousin now has to warn us of graphic content before texting details of what her community has suffered through the past few days.”
“My wife’s family survived the Holocaust,” he added. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about how much less I would have in my life today had they not. The trauma that events like these have on the families of survivors is palpable.”
He wrote that while his Jewish children “are too young to fully understand the horrors that have been inflicted on the Israeli people,” he will one day soon “have to try to explain it.”
“I won’t know where to begin,” he professed.
The Oscar-winning director of “Golda” has been taking on a very active role during the conflict, becoming a sort of unofficial spokesperson for Israel, and sharing, constantly, the photos of missing people and information on the situation. He added a highlight to his Instagram with dozens of posts.
“Unorthodox” Emmy winner Shira Haas shared that she had to leave her home after a rocket directly hit a building a block over. “This is just a small part of our terrifying reality,” she wrote.
“Transatlantic” and “Unorthodox” star Amit Rahav shared some of what was going on in Israel on his Instagram. After the news of the attack first broke, he wrote: “Israel is under attack. Earlier today war was declared and honestly, I’m struggling to find words. I’m just stuck to the screen, feeling there’s constant existential threat hanging over us. This situation is not normal, it’s intense, and I’ve never been more worried about my fellow Israelis.” He called the photos of those kidnapped into Gaza “haunting” and wrote that he “can’t get them out of my head.”
“All I can do at this moment is send love and support to the victims, their families, and everyone in our country.”
Later, he shared his efforts trying to put supplies together for those who need it in the front lines. He also has been filling his stories with requests from people in need — from those seeking lodgings, to requests for diapers and warm clothes for families.
Swell Ariel Or
“The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” herself, Swell Ariel Or, has been raising funds to help reservists fly back to Israel. So far, she has helped over 100 soldiers fly back home.
Amy Schumer has been filling her feed with so many posts about Israel, and even attended yesterday’s solidarity rally in New York, where she said, “I love you. Don’t read the comments. We stick together.” Don’t read the comments indeed!
Look who showed up to the Israel rally in Washington Square park! I always liked that @Amy Schumer! #israel #palestine #nyc #nyctok #israeltiktok #israelconflict #palestinetiktok #nyclife #nycrally #nyc #newyorkcity #washingtonsquarepark #amyschumer #nyctiktok
Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman has posted a lot on Israel. Particularly, she railed against the Democratic Socialist of America’s message about the situation in Israel. She used some pretty unsavory words to call out their statement on what happened in Israel, which expressed first their solidarity with Palestine and calling the events a “direct result of Israel’s apartheid regime.”
“The DSA of which I was a proud lifetime member, has lost me forever,” she wrote in the post criticizing the group.
“Israelis are human beings just like Palestinians. Many fight for alongside them for their freedom. Please we are in this together. All of us,” she wrote in her latest post.
Brett Gelman, beloved Jewish actor who gave us the term “jaddy,” and who recently got engaged in Israel, has been sharing news and resources on his Instagram non-stop. He shared a post with the caption: “Always and forever I stand with Israel, the Israeli people, and the Jewish people.”
“We are all conditioned to be bigoted. It is in our media. It is in our families. It is in our schools. For those liberals who have claimed to have faced this fact in the last few years why does it not at all cross your mind that you may have been conditioned to hate Jews? Even if you are a Jew? This is not about a political situation. This was a mass murder of a people. That will now result in the death of innocents in both countries,” he wrote in a different post.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
“I’m heartbroken, angry and sickened by the brutal murders and kidnappings of Jewish people through the horrific acts of the Hamas terrorist group,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wrote on his Instagram,. “The growing loss of innocent and Israeli and Palestinian lives is heart wrenching as this war escalates to immense proportions.”
Supermodel Gigi Hadid, whose father is Palestinian-American, shared a nuanced message condemning the violence of Hamas.
“My thoughts are with all those affected by this unjustifiable tragedy, and every day that innocent lives are taken by this conflict — too many of them are children,” she wrote on Instagram.While she professed she has “deep empathy and heartbreak for the Palestinian struggle and life under occupation,” she also feels “a responsibility to my Jewish friends to make it clear, as I have before: While I have hopes and dreams for Palestinians, none of them include the harm of a Jewish person.” She added that terrorizing innocent people doesn’t do anything for the ‘Free Palestine’ movement,” and shared condolences for her loved ones, both Palestinian and Jewish.