Stars from stage screen and sports join Gaza debate

Stars from stage screen and sports join Gaza debate

Stars from the worlds of arts, culture and sport have waded into the debate surrounding Israel and its assault on Gaza.

Over the past two weeks, celebrities have added their voice to the growing cacophony surrounding the conflict, as the death-toll this week surpassed 1,000 people.

Comedienne Joan Rivers on Palestinian civilians: “I don’t care, they started it!”

Online and on-air, well-known names have expressed their support for Palestinians in Gaza or for Israel, with social media sites providing perhaps the easiest way in which to comment.

In the UK, singer Zayn Malik, 21, of One Direction received death threats after posting under the Twitter hashtag ‘#FreePalestine’ to his 13 million followers.

Across the Atlantic A-list celebrities like singer Rihanna and pop princess Selena Gomez also embraced the pro-Gaza trend, with Gomez posting an image reading “Pray for Gaza” that was ‘liked’ by over 653,000 people.

Some artists went further, with Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, playwright Caryl Churchill and US rapper Boots Riley all signed an open letter calling for a military embargo of Israel.

Hitting back, comedy legend Joan Rivers (pictured) said: “If New Jersey were firing rockets into New York, we would wipe ‘em out.” When asked by a TMZ reporter about civilians in Gaza, Rivers replied: “I don’t care! They started it.”

Joining her in a defence of Israel were several TV and radio personalities, among them DJ Howard Stern, who said: “I’m so tired of the bullsh*t. If you’re anti-Israel you’re anti-America.”

Pro-Israeli HBO host Bill Maher also took to Twitter, saying: “Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u — u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.”

Republican actor Jon Voight meanwhile took the opportunity to blast the Obama administration, saying its call for Israel to stop bombing Gaza was a “travesty” when there had been no corresponding criticism of Hamas.

In the world of sport, English footballer Joey Barton entered into a heated exchange with Israeli sports star Yossi Benayoun when he likened the Israeli action to “ethnic cleansing”.

Meanwhile English cricketer Moeen Ali, a British Muslim from Birmingham, wore “Save Gaza, Free Palestine” wristbands during a Test match with India. English cricketing authorities stood by his decision, but by Wednesday the International Cricket Council (ICC) had told him to remove them.

In Scotland during the Commonwealth Games, Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang was reprimanded for wearing gloves with ‘Save Gaza‘ written on them.

While back in the US,  Israeli basketball player Omri Casspi responded to his former team-mate’s ‘Free Palestine’ tweet by himself tweeting: “600 rockets from Gaza in four days. Numbers don’t lie.”

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