Celebrities have weighed in on the Israel-Hamas war. Few have been as prolific or controversial as Amy Schumer.

todayNovember 4, 2023 1

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On Oct. 7, Amy Schumer made her first Instagram post about the Israel-Hamas conflict: She reshared a video of Hamas militants kidnapping hostages after killing hundreds at a music festival in Israel. 

Almost a month later, her almost-daily updates have made the comedian one of the most vocal and high-profile Americans to use social media to weigh in on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Even people who don’t follow the comedian — who has 13.1 million Instagram followers — have seen the reposts, the screenshots, the celebrity solidarity comments and the criticism pop up online across platforms.

Many celebrities who posted about the conflict have received criticism online from people who either blast them for not saying enough, or for sharing what they believe is the “wrong” perspective. Selena Gomez, who is the most-followed woman on Instagram, even recently said she’s taking a break from the platform after she generated backlash for her statements. 

This isn’t the first time celebrities have been outspoken about current events — and received backlash for what they’ve said. But Schumer — who has posted about the conflict more than 40 times on her Instagram, and about five times on X (including three reposts) as of Friday — has shown few signs of relenting.

The comedian, who is Jewish, has tied her identity to many of her posts, which have in some ways become a daily marker of the ongoing tension on social media and across the U.S. that remains heightened almost a month after the start of the conflict. 

Approximately 1,400 people in Israel were killed in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, and 241 are being held hostage, according to Israeli authorities. More than 9,000 have been killed in Gaza since the war began, the Gaza Health Ministry reported on Friday.

Schumer’s posts haven’t had a large impact on the size of her following — she has lost 45,000 Instagram followers this month, which is less than 1% of her overall following, according to social media analytics company Social Blade.

In comments, some — including celebrities Kathy Griffin and Sacha Baron Cohen — have offered their support to the comedian, thanking her for elevating Jewish people’s voices. Other social media users have called the contents of some of the posts Islamophobic, or accused Schumer of spreading hate or misinformation. 

This week, Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., directly addressed Schumer in her own post talking about what she felt her father’s stance would be on the war. The response came after Schumer shared a clip of Martin Luther King Jr. saying “Israel must exist and has a right to exist and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.” In another clip, he denounces antisemitism as “wrong” and says “it’s unjust and it’s evil.” King said that while she and her father are against antisemitism, she’s certain her father “would call for Israel’s bombing of Palestinians to cease” and “for hostages to be released.” 

Wajahat Ali, a columnist for The Daily Beast, wrote in his latest opinion piece that Schumer has “abused her influence to punch down and claim victimhood.”

The viral response has been enough for some crisis communications experts to say Schumer’s reputation may suffer, and she could end up serving as an example for celebrities of what not to do in the future.

“If I had a client that was posting things that were getting a reaction the way Amy Schumer was posting, no matter how good her intentions — maybe she had the truest of intentions — I would recommend they immediately stop,” said Ryan McCormick, co-founder and media relations specialist at the public relations firm Goldman McCormick PR. McCormick does not represent or work with Schumer.

Representatives for Schumer did not respond to a request for comment made by NBC News.

In her latest post on Instagram on Wednesday, Schumer addressed the backlash, saying she wants the hostages being held by Hamas “BACK” as well as the “safety and freedom from Hamas for Palestinians and Israelis.” She said she also wants peace.

“You will never see me wishing harm on anyone,” she wrote. “Saying I’m Islamophobic or that I like genocide is crazy.” 

But some online have said their views on Schumer have already changed — honing in on two of her posts that she deleted after critics called them Islamophobic. 

One graphic she reposted claimed Ivy League universities are the “top recipients of $8.5 billion” in “Arab funding.” The final paragraph in the graphic claims that students at American universities are “currently exhibiting overwhelming support for Hamas” while condemning Israel. After being deleted, screenshots of the post continued to circulate on X, with critics saying the infographic had nothing to do with Israel or Gaza. 

She also deleted an Instagram post that featured a political cartoon of illustrated pro-Palestinian protesters holding inflammatory signs. One of the most prominent signs in the image said “Gazans rape Jewish girls only in self defense.” The post sparked outrage online from people who said that the focus on Gazans instead of Hamas justified the deaths of Gazan civilians. 

She seemed to acknowledge some of the criticism, writing in the caption of a different Instagram post, “Can we agree on this #nohostageleftbehind Hamas terrorists are who I’m talking about. No Gazans. Sorry I posted something that was hurtful to them. I’ll be more careful.”

Actor Asia Jackson said Schumer confronted her in direct messages after she posted criticism about the comedian on X, questioning her generalization of “Gazan people.” She shared screenshots of the alleged interaction, which quickly also went viral. NBC News was unable to confirm the authenticity of the messages. A representative for Jackson declined to comment further and said Jackson’s posts were the extent of her statements. 

Online, some who responded to Jackson appeared to echo her belief that many people are afraid to post in fear of losing their jobs, but that Schumer appears to be able to post her feelings with impunity.

In some industries, including Hollywood, there has already been a ripple effect — after some people shared their pro-Palestinian perspectives online, they faced backlash and, in some instances, professional repercussions. 

For example, Maha Dakhil, an agent at Creative Artists Agency, stepped away from her leadership duties as co-head of the motion pictures department, Variety reported, after she showed her support for Palestine on social media and it caused viral blowback. 

Molly McPherson, a public relations and crisis communications professional, said she believes Schumer’s posts and the widespread reaction to them will affect Schumer’s reputation “for some time to come.”

“This experience now may become a litmus test for how celebrities are going to choose to either voice their perspectives on international affairs, these big, complex issues, or choose to remain silent,” McPherson said. “What could happen is this could be the Amy Schumer effect.” 

In a post on Halloween, Schumer said that she’s “sad to have lost so many friends these last few weeks” but that she’s a “proud Jewish Woman” with her head and spirits high.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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