The Politics of Social Media: Celebrities on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

It seems as though every day brings a new set of horrors from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to fill our front pages. From reports of Israeli attacks on schools to aid workers removing missiles hidden amongst Palestinian refugees, it is a constant reminder of the dark side of humanity. Celebrity comment on the issue has ranged from pro-Israeli sentiments from Bar Refaeli to Joan Rivers’ “Well if Selena said that…let’s see if she can spell Palestinian.” Joan’s typically cutting comments were in relation to Selena Gomez’s Instagram from earlier in the week:  “It’s About Humanity. Pray for Gaza.” Mostly, however, Celeb Land has stayed silent.

Rihanna Tweet

The Internet is littered with awkward reminders of past decisions, much like everyone’s early Facebook Timelines. The issues of the Gaza Strip are huge and polarizing, so celebrities can’t be blamed for not wanting to get involved by giving an opinion. Perhaps this is why Rihanna deleted a #FreePalestine tweet that her PR claims was sent in error. After all, Zayn Malik saw death threats in reply to his #FreePalestine tweet which just goes to show just how rabid 1D fans can get. But it got re-tweeted 150,000 times and his 13 million followers might just look into the issues further to make up their own minds.

 

Selena-Gomez-Gaza post

Celebrities make up seven of the top 10 most followed on Twitter. Katy Perry has 10,395,317 more followers than Barack Obama and I bet Ke$ha has more Facebook friends than David Cameron. The Institute for Public Policy Research in 2013 raised concerns that “younger people today are less likely than previous generations to develop the habit of voting as they move into middle age.” We are facing a crisis of political apathy from the young. And who can blame them? Politicians are largely middle-aged men whose social media feeds are like the embarrassing stream of consciousness posts you block from your parents. This is the age of the celebrity as role model to the young, so who better to raise awareness than the young and famous?

We are doing young people a disservice by assuming that they are mindless parrots of the opinions of their idols. Just because a celebrity tweets their personal opinion on an issue it doesn’t mean that their followers will all take the same stance. Although all of us saw Britney shave her head in ’07 how many of us diehard BritBrit fans did the same?  Peace comes through understanding, and understanding comes from education and debate. If people really want to change the future and make a difference, it starts with discussion, not violent or aggressive replies to people expressing their opinions. Surely the violence of recent times should speak for itself, and for our need to allow debate and to see the viewpoint of others. So comment away on politics, celebrities! Start listening to each other’s political points of view! And please don’t do a Joan and dismiss things as being out of hand. #TeamSelena.

 

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