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#FreePalestine: Bella and Gigi Hadid’s Fight for Palestine

Why their words matter

Gigi and Bella Hadid arrive at Alberta Ferretti fashion show for the Milan fashion week in Milan, Italy. Image: Marco Aprile/Shutterstock

In the online discussion regarding Israel and Palestine, there is a rise in celebrity activism. Particularly, the half-Palestinian models Bella and Gigi Hadid, have been using their celebrity status and social media to share details regarding the treatment of people in Palestine.

It is mostly a new phenomenon for models to speak out on such political topics, with them opting to keep their views private. However, Bella and Gigi have been breaking the mold. Both women have publicly signed the Artists4Ceasefire petition, which calls for President Biden to help end the bombing of Gaza and the Israeli occupation.

Gigi and Bella are the daughters of Mohammed Hadid, a businessman and real-estate agent. In 1948, the year he was born, Palestinian people were displaced from their homes in “the Nakba” or “the catastrophe.” This is because it is estimated that around 750,000, 80% of the population, had to leave the country. This lead to the Hadid family immigrating to the United States. In Palestine today, the ongoing violence is still referred to as “the Nakba”.

“I’m not afraid to lose modeling jobs and I will continue to speak up on Palestine.”

Bella Hadid

Bella Hadid

Bella has been vocal on her Instagram account. Often, she shares pro-Palestinian posts to her story, detailing her pride in her heritage and information about the war. One of her posts described the generational trauma Palestinians are suffering from now, as her family did in 1948. She urged her followers to “keep pressure” on world leaders to help end the Palestinian plight.

She stated that Instagram is purposefully hiding her Palestinian posts. This is so they don’t receive as many views as a story about her personal life or career would.

Additionally, Bella has participated in a number of free Palestine protests. In December 2017, Bella attended a rally in London against President Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, not Palestine, and the moving of the US embassy to there from Tel Aviv. She attended a similar event in New York in May 2021. It was here she carried the sign “It’s free Palestine until Palestine is free”. This was also shared as a post to her Instagram.

Gigi Hadid

Gigi also shared information to her Instagram. One post stated that “There is nothing Jewish about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians”. Adding that it is not antisemitic to support Palestine. In response, the Israeli government said “Have you been sleeping the past week?”. Before asking if Gigi was okay “turning a blind eye to Jewish babies being butchered in their beds”.

In another since-deleted post, Gigi shared how Israel “Is the only country in the world that keeps children as prisoners of war”. In this case, she was called out for sharing false information. To defend herself, Gigi replied that she wanted to highlight how the Israeli government was breaking international laws, but she regrets the example used.

The Effect on the Hadids

The sisters have released statements on their social media after receiving considerable backlash. They both write how they support Palestine but understand that the people of Israel also suffer.

In response to their activity on Instagram, the women have been ridiculed for not doing enough. Many complain that simply sharing posts to their story is not real activism. Instead, they should be more hands-on, as Bella seemed to be in 2017 and 2021.

However, it is important to note that remaining silent is the worst they could do. As high-profile celebrities with a large following, sharing posts is better than nothing. If the women had remained silent, they would have received a worse backlash than they do now. This is true when comparing how involved they are compared to celebrities like Taylor Swift or Beyoncé.

High numbers of death threats have also been sent to Bella and Gigi. This is mostly done online via their social media accounts but also through their personal phones. In the aftermath of their statements, their phone numbers were leaked, making these threats even more real.

The Impact on the #FreePalestine Movement:

What does this mean for the #FreePalestine movement?

It creates an online discussion, particularly among Hadid’s fans. For people who are only learning about the war between Israel and Palestine, it stops information from being gate-kept. Awareness about political and charitable organizations increases as well.

However, with the Hadid’s eagerness to share information about only the atrocities happening in Palestine, critical information is lost. Gigi’s mistake of sharing a fake post also forces viewers to question what information online is truly reliable. This applies for posts in support of Israel as well as in support of Palestine.

“While I have hopes and dreams for Palestinians, none of them include the harm of a Jewish Person.”

Gigi Hadid
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Written By

MA Creative Writing and Publishing student at the University of Chester in England, UK. I have a passion for history and mythology, the older the better. You can find me reading, usually in a coffee shop, or down by the river Dee. My article writing began when I was 16 in college when I asked the head of the student council to start a student lead magazine. I then went on to write book reviews for University of Chester's English Department magazine during my undergrad.

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