Among those egging on the recent wave of anti-Semitic assaults and incidents were not only Islamist propagandists, left-wing politicians, and Iran, but also a number of celebrities and so-called “influencers”—those whose impressive social-media followings give them a podium to shape opinions and tastes on a large scale. Ayaan Hirsi Ali comments on their role:
Take the supermodel Bella Hadid, who, as Daniella Greenbaum Davis has pointed out, has almost four-times as many Instagram followers as there are Jews in the entire world. In response to the conflict, she joined a pro-Palestinian protest in Brooklyn, chanting: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”—an anti-Semitic slogan coined by the Palestine Liberation Organization to call for the elimination of Israel. Until recently, it was a chant frequently associated with the likes of Hamas. . . . But in today’s hysterical climate, one of the West’s most famous celebrities can use it and expect applause.
It is my opinion that Ms. Hadid was unaware of the context and history of the chant; I do not believe she understood she was calling for the elimination of Israel, or the expulsion or genocide of the Jewish people. Similarly, I do not believe that she, nor her niece’s father, the singer Zayn Malik, understood the implications of describing Israel as a “colonizer.”
Yet we must not ignore the fact that such descriptions have a pernicious impact on society at large. . . . Jewish communities across the world are already experiencing the fall-out from a new wave of anti-Semitism that has been legitimized by celebrity activists. [On May 20], Joseph Borgen was attacked by a group of pro-Palestinian activists in New York City’s Times Square. They reportedly beat him with a crutch, sprayed him with mace, called him a “dirty Jew,” and explained that “Hamas is going to kill all of you.” Remarkably, a photo of one of the men accused of assaulting Borgen, Waseem Awawdeh, recently appeared in a now-deleted Instagram photo posted by Bella Hadid from a pro-Palestinian protest.