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#Blockout2024: Silent Celebrities Under Fire Over Israel’s Onslaught On Gaza

“I didn’t think Kim Kardashian could piss me off more than she already did, but then I heard her say ‘Free Everybody’, meanwhile it’s just one country being carpet bombed by another.”

“I didn’t think Kim Kardashian could piss me off more than she already did, but then I heard her say ‘Free Everybody’, meanwhile it’s just one country being carpet bombed by another.”

On social media, calls to block the accounts of celebrities are intensifying, a movement that aims to boycott stars who have remained silent on the war in Gaza.

This boycott is not just a symbolic gesture, but it has the potential to impact the public image and influence of these celebrities significantly. 

The movement driven by Gen Zs on TikTok has been growing since the Met Gala, the annual fashion event in New York attended by the elite of showbiz on 6 May, while Israel started heavily bombing Gaza.

The contrast between the high-glamour annual Met Gala and the start of the Israeli military operation in Rafah has sparked much concern and outrage among social media users.

It all started after a video – now deleted – of an American content creator, Haley Baylee, made on the sidelines of the event. 

In an outfit similar to one of Queen Marie-Antoinette’s, the influencer said, “Let them eat cake.” These words, attributed to the French Queen during the French Revolution, symbolise the disconnection between the people and the elite. Since then, calls for a boycott have multiplied.

Following Baylee’s video, TikTok creator @ladyfromtheoutside urged people to “digitally guillotine” celebrities and influencers who aren’t helping those in need by blocking them and withdrawing support.

American singers Beyoncé and Taylor Swift and reality TV star and businesswoman Kim Kardashian are among the targets of this pro-Palestinian campaign. 

On TikTok, over 30,000 videos were posted with the hashtag “blockout2024” on the day of the Met Gala. Videos listing the names of the gala guests and other personalities to be “blocked” were met with thousands of “likes”, indicating a strong social media response to the boycott.

“When they were bombing Rafah, where there are thousands of children, we heard more about Zendaya’s outfit than about what was happening [in Gaza]”, writes a TikTok user. “By blocking them, you hit them in the wallet,” they added.

The pro-Palestinian campaign aims to publicly reveal a list of celebrities blocked on social networks to reduce their income.

So, how does the blockout work?

Social media is all a matter of algorithms. Online users usually see content from people they follow. However, they can also be suggested content by algorithms based on their interests.

Users can also follow, mute, or block accounts on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or X. By blocking celebrities, users won’t be able to see their posts, photos, videos, and sponsored content. This operation decreases their views and engagement, affecting their income.

Is the blockout effective?

According to Social Blade, a website specialising in social media statistics, Selena Gomez has lost over a million Instagram subscribers, while Kim Kardashian has lost 814,000.

Like many other celebrities, Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian are being slammed for endorsing neutral statements over Israel’s deadly assaults on Gaza.

On another positive note, certain celebrities have started to speak out on the situation in Gaza out of fear of being cancelled. Singer Lizzo published a video on Instagram on 13 May, supporting the people of Gaza, Sudan, and Congo. 

Muslim influencers at the heart of the #Blockout2024

What is the point of Muslim representation if it stays silent on Gaza?

In a time where Muslim representation is vital for the community, it is even more important for Muslim influencers and celebrities to voice their support for the oppressed in Gaza and not remain silent on these crimes.

Muslim influencers and celebrities should champion the cause of liberation, not feed on personal capitalist gains.

Most influencers who built their career on their Muslim identity are now choosing to stay silent over Israel’s attacks on Gaza for the sake of money. 

However, with the recent Operation Blockout campaign, Muslim TikTokers, such as the Palestinian-American Asad sisters, who were long silent, began to voice their support for Gaza.

These three sisters, well-known for their TikToks promoting Arab culture and lifestyle, recently stirred controversy for being silent and partnering with beauty brands that support the genocide in Gaza. 

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In a video addressing the backlash, the Asad sisters said on TikTok, “We hate to have to make this video and take away from Palestine, but at this point, we have received so much hate, and people are slandering our name, character, and entire family and we just want to address what’s going on.”

Users have criticised the sisters for suddenly shifting the type of content they publish on Tiktok, accusing them of being hypocrites.

In an apology video later deleted, the sisters said, “We need to be on the same team,” addressing the hate they received. However, online users were angry and accused the sisters of still working with Sephora, which is part of the LVMH group that supports Israel.

In a video, Nadia Rahman, a TikTok user, reacted to the backlash the sisters are facing and said the sisters “are not seeming to think about the brands that they are promoting or how they are leveraging in a way that might be whitewashing companies and brands that are actually doing a lot of damage to the cause of Palestinian liberation.”

She added, “The Asad sisters haven’t seemed to think critically about how their advocacy for Palestine.”

According to Rahman, Muslim influencers should pivot their content to focus on Palestine and build awareness on that while talking about the “economic system, how companies work celebrities culture to break down how it contributes to oppression and exploitation.”

What high-profile celebrities are on the #blockout list?

In a 2.5 million-view video posted by @ladyfromtheoutside, in which she referred to the #blockout2024 as a “digital guillotine”, the user said, “We gave them their platforms. It’s time to take it back, take our views away, our likes, our comments, our money by blocking them on all social media and digital platforms.”

Here are prominent celebrities who are on the #blockout list:

The Kardashian’s and Jenner’s

During Kim Kardashian’s appearance at the 2024 OMR Festival in Germany, a protester yelled: “Free Palestine!” to which Kim Kardashian replied, “Free Everybody.”

Since then, her comment stirred an immediate backlash from social media users for her neutral stance on Gaza. One user said on X, “I didn’t think Kim Kardashian could piss me off more than she already did, but then I heard her say ‘Free Everybody’, meanwhile it’s just one country being carpet bombed by another.”

Following the attack on 7 October, Kylie Jenner posted an Instagram story in support of Israel that was then deleted due to a major online stir. The post was an image that read, “Now and always, we stand with the people of Israel.”

Justin and Hayley Bieber

The couple is being boycotted for remaining silent on Gaza while denouncing antisemitism on their social media accounts. 

In the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel, Justin Bieber was criticised for posting a story on Instagram that read, “Praying For Israel”, on top of a picture showing Gaza in ruins. He then deleted it when social media users noticed it was a picture of the Gaza Strip.

Selena Gomez

Besides her neutral stance on Gaza, Selena Gomez is the founder of Rare Beauty, a beauty brand owned by CEO Scott Friedman, an Israel and Zionist partisan.

Pharell

The American singer is well-known for supporting Israel through regular donations to the Friends of Israel Defence Forces (FIDF). 

In 2018, he was among the many Hollywood celebrities, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who raised a record-breaking $60 million for the Israel Occupation Forces.

Gal Gadot

The American-Israeli Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot is a former Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) soldier who has openly stood and donated to Israel.

Following the attack of 7 October, Gadot posted a picture on Instagram that read, “I stand with Israel you should too. The world cannot sit on the fence when these horrific acts of terror are happening!”

Along with Jamee Lee Curtis, Jerry Seinfield, Lana Del Rey, Chris Pine and 700 other Hollywood celebrities, Gadot also signed an open letter supporting Israel and condemning the Palestinian resistance group Hamas.

Since 7 October, Israel has killed over 35,000 Palestinians, including babies, children, and women, while injuring over 80,000 so far, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

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