What famous Palestinians have said about what’s happening in their nation

Public figures have been using their platforms to bring attention to nation's plight

Palestinains with a platfrom have been speaking up about Palestine in various ways. Pictured: Comedian Mo Amer, Queen Rania of Jordan, model Bella Hadid. Photo: Getty
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Since Israel launched its retaliatory attack on Gaza in October, Palestinian public figures and creatives have been using their platforms to bring attention to the struggles of their homeland.

Palestinian singer Elyanna posted a video of her new song, which features in the latest album by Palestinian-Canadian rapper and singer Belly. She wrote in the caption that all the proceeds from Belly’s new album will be donated to Palestine.

Elyana is one of a handful of Palestinians who is getting international recognition for her talent. Last month, she made her US television debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, performing in a Palestinian keffiyeh headscarf against a backdrop illuminated with excerpts of Arabic poetry.

This was the singer’s way, as also seen through her social media presence, to advocate and speak up on what is currently happening in Palestine.

She is one of several prominent Palestinians celebrities who have expressed their thoughts and feelings on the continuing conflict by speaking at rallies, on television interviews and posting statements on their social media platforms.

Here are what some of the world’s most famous Palestinians have said about Palestine since October 2023.

Mo Amer, Comedian

“I’m a product of war. My family was displaced. Palestinians are spread all over the Earth and we have to get up on stages like this in the middle of the street and say ‘hey, we’re human, hey guys, we’re people too’. What a ridiculous thing to do. What a ridiculous thing to have to do to say: I’m a person. I bleed, my grandparents bleed. This is insane.”

Amer delivered a powerful and emotional speech at the Jewish Voice for Peace rally in Washington D.C. in October last year. He spoke openly about his family’s history in Palestine and emphasised focusing on the human element of the conflict.

Amer’s hugely successful Netflix show Mo is loosely based on his experiences growing up as a Palestinian refugee and explores themes of family, identity and exile in a profound way through comedy.

Gigi Hadid, model

“I have deep empathy and heartbreak for the Palestinian struggle and life under occupation, It’s a responsibility I hold daily. I also feel 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. The terrorising of innocent people is not in alignment with and does not do any good for the ‘Free Palestine’ movement.”

Hadid posted her thoughts and feelings after the beginning of the conflict in October last year to her 70 million followers on Instagram. The model, along with her sister Bella Hadid, have always been vocal in the media about their heritage and ties to Palestine through their father Mohamed Hadid, whose family were refugees in Syria following the 1948 war.

Bella Hadid, model

“My family witnessed 75 years of violence against Palestinian people, most notably, brutal settler invasions which led to the destruction of entire communities, murder in cold blood and the forcible removal of families from their homes. The practice of settlements on Palestinian land still continues to this day. The pain of that is unimaginable. My heart is bleeding with pain from the trauma I am seeing unfold, as well as the generational trauma of my Palestinian blood.”

Hadid has been very vocal about her advocacy for Palestine over the years and released a statement on her Instagram account to her 60 million followers following the air strikes in Gaza last October. In an interview with comedian and writer Ramy Youssef for a GQ feature titled Bella and Ramy: BFFs in September 2022 issue, Hadid stated her activism takes priority over her career.

“I realised that I'm not on this earth to be a model. I'm so lucky and blessed that I'm in a position where I can speak out the way that I do. And really, the downfall is what? That I lose my job?”

Michael Malarkey, actor and musician

“The majority of the world knows the truth. The entire Global South knows. Anyone in the western world with any knowledge of colonial history and international law, we know. If you cannot take a stand against apartheid and genocide, what is preventing you? What has prevented people from speaking out before?”

In October last year Malarkey, known mostly for his work on The Vampire Diaries, posted a lengthy statement on Instagram to his two million followers. He asked for the international community to speak up, act and call for an immediate cease fire “to prevent any further loss of civilian life”.

Malarkey is of Lebanese and Palestinian decent and has been vocal on his personal platform as well as speaking on podcasts and interviews about the current conflict.

Queen Rania

“I just want to remind the world that Palestinian mothers love their children just as much as any other mother in the world. And for them to have to go through this is just unbelievable.”

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour in October last year, Queen Rania of Jordan, who is of Palestinian descent, discussed the war and the humanitarian crisis faced by the Palestinian people. The interview was wildly shared and reposted on social media platforms.

While she focused on the loss of all innocent human life, Queen Rania highlighted that mothers and children are those most affected.

“As a mother … we've seen Palestinian mothers who have to write the names of their children on their hands because the chances of them being shelled to death, of their bodies turning into corpses, are so high.”

Rashida Tlaib, American politician

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable. We are human beings just like anyone else. My Siti, my grandmother, like all Palestinians, just wants to live her life with freedom and human dignity we all deserve.”

In November of last year, Tlaib a Palestinian American us Representative serving the state of Michigan gave an impassioned speech about Palestine to the United States House of Representatives chamber.

It came after attempts to censure her after accusations of anti-Semitism. In her speech, Talib stressed the need to speak up for human rights and separating criticism of governments from that of its people.

Talib is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress as well as one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, along with Ilhan Omar.

Simi and Haze, beauty entrepreneurs

“Principles aren't principles unless they cost you something. We’ve sacrificed relationships and brand partnerships, but what is that compared to life? What is that in the face of a genocide?”

Twin Palestinian entrepreneurs Simi and Haze Khadra are the force behind the beauty brand SimiHaze Beauty. The brand offers a range of skincare-infused make-up essentials and the twins have also made a name for themselves online for their unique take on fashion and style.

Speaking to The National, the sisters were clear on their priorities when it comes to their advocacy for Palestine. They highlighted the fact that above anything else it was important for them to speak the message of the Palestinian struggle and that they weren't willing to “tone it down” for the sake of the sake of their business.

Haze also added that it was important for them to be vocal in order to humanise Palestinian people. She said:

“The more we meet people, the more people can stop and say, ‘I actually know a Palestinian,’ and the more we become humans in people’s minds, as insane as that sounds. It’s incremental moments like that that help bring about real change.”

Updated: June 04, 2024, 11:39 AM