Following the Hamas massacre on October 7, many in the entertainment industry spoke out immediately to condemn it, while many more released measured statements in the following days, decrying the suffering of innocents in Gaza as well as the murder and kidnapping of Israelis.
But many others have stayed silent.
“It’s mostly the usual suspects, the top-tier Hollywood A-listers, people who are so big they have nothing to fear, who are condemning the Hamas massacre,” said a Jewish entertainment industry professional who preferred, like almost everyone I spoke to for this article, not to give his name for fear of losing career opportunities – as he and others admitted.
The many celebrities who have spoken out about Hamas and Israel
It’s a real concern in a competitive industry, they said, and for what it’s worth, my assurance that I would not name my interviewees had to be repeated half a dozen times before they would talk, even off the record. They are worried. These are people who have posted support for Israel on their personal social media accounts and do not fear repercussions for that, but they were worried about possible fallout from criticizing those who have remained silent.
Israelis in Hollywood, such as Gal Gadot (Gadot has posted many times a day to her more than 109 million Instagram followers about the massacre and especially about the kidnappings), Lior Raz and Natalie Portman, were quick to speak out about the horrific murders, kidnappings and torture. Quentin Tarantino, who is married to singer Daniella Pick and lives in Israel, met with IDF soldiers to boost their morale.
They were joined by huge stars, including Madonna and Barbra Streisand.
Celebrities who posted early and often – many of whom have received a great deal of online hate for their views – include Mark Hamill, Mayim Bialik, Brett Gelman, Amy Schumer and Michael Rapaport.
Just days after the massacre, Irish rock band U2 dedicated a song to the victims at the music festival, changing the lyrics of “Pride (In the Name of Love)” to honor them.
AMONG THOSE in Hollywood and the entertainment industry (including movies, television, comedy, modeling and music), both Jewish and gentile, who have spoken out on social media to condemn the Hamas massacre are: Liev Scheiber, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Chastain, Riz Ahmed, Alison Brie, Laura Dern, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Adam Sandler, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kerry Washington, Paulina Porkizkova, Dwayne Johnson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Slash, Noah Schapp, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Garner, Uzo Aduba, Nick Cave, Alex Edelman, Kaitlin Olson, Nick Offerman, Jenna Ushkowitz, Lali Esposito, Judd Apatow, J.R. Ramirez, Facundo Arana, Nathaniel Buzolic, Sharna Burgess, David Boreanaz, Selma Blair, Regina Spektor, Kristen Bell, Manu Bennett, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ashley Benson, Josh Brolin, Jon Bernthal, OneRepublic, January Jones, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kris Jenner, Caitlin Jenner, Josh Gad, Grant Gustin, Rush, Julia Garner, David Draiman, Kat Graham, Bryan Greenberg, Ellen Degeneres, Nina Dobrev, Jenna Dewan, Kirsten Dunst, Shira Haas, Tate D onovan, Shannen Doherty, Aaron Diaz, Josh Dallas, Claire Holt, Bernie Taupin, Jeff Tweedy, Usher, Michael Buble, Brooke Shields, Scott “Scooter” Braun, Bella Thorne, Rob Schneider, David Schwimmer, Courtney Cox, Kelly Ripa, Reese Witherspoon, Chelsea Handler, Michelle Trachtenberg, Juliette Lewis, Shawn Levy, Ian Ziering, Mandy Moore, Sarah Michelle Geller, Debra Messing, Julianna Margulies, JasonStatham, Jerry Seinfeld, Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Paulson, Isla Fisher and Mandy Patinkin.
MAJOR NAMES from the world of literature, such as J.K. Rowling, and sports, including Tom Brady and LeBron James, have also made their support for Israel at this time clear.
This is by no means a complete list, and it is constantly growing. Several other celebrities signed open letters by such groups as the Creative Coalition for Peace, including Helen Mirren and Michael Douglas. Hillel Wachs, a concert promoter based in Tel Aviv, said, “It’s not a given that anyone but the A-listers will comment on an event like this.”
Another US entertainment professional echoed this sentiment, noting, “Barbra Streisand can say whatever she wants, there will be no consequences, she will still fill every auditorium she wants to perform in. It’s like she’s ‘too big to fail.’ But from a lot of other people, the silence is deafening.”
He named a number of big entertainment corporations that have stayed silent, as well as the most important Jewish name of all in the industry: Steven Spielberg. The Schindler’s List director, who addressed the subject of antisemitism again in his autobiographical film, The Fabelmans, last year, has said nothing, at least so far.
When he received an honorary Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, he said, “This honor has particular meaning for me because I’m a Jewish director. I’d like to believe that this is a small moment in a much larger, ongoing effort of healing the broken places of history – what Jews call Tikkun Olam, the repairing and restoring of the world. . . The opposite of justice is not injustice. The opposite of justice is forgetting.”
As my conversation with this professional turned to the music industry, I asked whether he thought Sir Paul McCartney, who has performed in Israel – two of his three wives were Jewish – would say something soon. “Don’t hold your breath,” he said.
With increasingly audible fury, he added, “My grandfather used to say that he was more angry at his Polish neighbors, who just waved while they were taking him away, than he was at the Nazis.”
SOME NAMED a fear of trendy cancel culture as the main reason that many have remained silent; others said that the current Israeli government is a key part of the problem. “People in Hollywood don’t want to be seen to be aligning themselves with the current, virtually fascist Israeli government,” another industry insider said. “It would be like saying you support Putin. . . No one in LA or New York is immune from these concerns. . . They don’t want to alienate their fans.”
One actress, Tara Strong – who has many credits to her name, especially in the voice-acting field, such as “The Powerpuff Girls” – said she was fired from a job this week on the series “Boxtown” due to her support for Israel. The show released a statement on its account that read, in part, “This decision was due to a trend among Tara’s recent online activity, including posts that promote controversial messages regarding the peoples of Palestine currently affected by the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis.”
Strong had liked an online post saying that Islam is “a real, clear, and present danger.” In an explanation, Strong wrote, “I liked it when I saw ISIS = HAMAS, I actually didn’t read the entire tweet [which] is awful and unliked [it] as soon as I realized. I love everyone… except terrorists. This internet is so quick to peg people and make judgments. I’m still here to help everyone, and I mean that.” But it wasn’t good enough for the producers of the show, who announced auditions to recast her part.
And yet the war has elevated certain unlikely voices that have come to Israel’s defense. One of them is stand-up comedian Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, who is based in Europe and New York and who recently performed in Tel Aviv. In a clip that went viral, he found a way to elicit laughter during a terrible week by making fun of liberal Hamas supporters.
“I think it’s a little ironic that the people who are defending Hamas online are also those they would be the most likely to kill,” he said, adding sarcastically, “Oh, no, no, I’m sure the Islamic terrorists would love you, you queer intellectual feminist: ‘We’re freedom fighters. They’re fighting for their land and I’m fighting for my right to purple hair.’ . . . I’m sorry, if your reaction to people being slaughtered, beheaded, raped and burned alive isn’t complete and utter disgust and horror, if your reaction is, ‘I mean, why? See it from their perspective,’ you need to get your f***ing head checked.”
Later in the week, he posted that he gained 12,000 followers overnight, “And all I had to do was say that Hamas terrorism is wrong.”
Some in the entertainment world should learn a lesson from Spaulding, who simply spoke from the heart. Millions of people out there are appalled by the massacre, and taking a stand does not necessarily mean career suicide.