Bella Hadid opens herself to allegations of anti-Semitism after claiming Israel is not a country


Supermodel sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid have angered many in the Israeli community with an Instagram post that critics said was anti-Semitic.

Bella, 24, and Gigi, 26, are vocal in their support for the Palestinian cause.

Their father Mohamed Hadid, 72, is a Palestinian born in Nazareth in November 1948, four months after his city was captured by Israeli forces. The family fled to Syria, and ultimately to Washington DC. He has Jordanian and American citizenship.

On Tuesday, as the conflict in the Middle East escalated, Bella shared a post on Instagram which attempted to explain, in her eyes, the conflict.

Gigi (left) and Bella Hadid with their father Mohamed, who was born in Palestine in 1948

Bella Hadid shared the cartoon, with several slides explaining her point, on Instagram

Bella Hadid shared the cartoon, with several slides explaining her point, on Instagram

In the cartoon, a woman is telling her friend: ‘There is no ‘fighting’. There is only Israeli colonisation, ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid.

‘When I say ‘Israel’, I am referring to a group of people, a group of settlers, who are colonising Palestine.’

The post gives a highly subjective view of the situation, and critics responded immediately.

‘You speak as if you know what you are talking about. Inform yourself please,’ said one woman.

‘So many factual incorrect things here,’ said a man.

Another urged: ‘Go read a book,’ while one simply commented: ‘Lies.’

‘This is wildly biased,’ said another. ‘Seems more like a way to shame Jews rather than creating any real change for your brothers and sisters.’

Another replied: ‘This ain’t it, Bella. Only causing more of the lucrative divide.’ 

Israel is a diverse country, founded in 1948, and much like the United States is ethnically very mixed.

Israelis and Palestinians have clashed over claims to the Holy Land for decades. 

Large numbers of Jews began moving to Ottoman Palestine – a predominately Arab region – following the 1896 publication of Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State, which promoted the idea of a haven for Jews in their ancient homeland to escape anti-Semitism in Europe. There has been a community of Jews in the region for milennia.

The exact population balance is hard to tell, because at the time people frequently avoided the census. According to the Ottoman census of 1878, the Jerusalem, Nablus, and Acre districts were home to 403,795 Muslims, representing 85.5 per cent of the population.

Christians made up 9.2 per cent (43,659); Jewish people 5.3 per cent (25,000).

So Bella is wrong to describe Israel as a colony, because Jewish people had already been in the region for centuries. 

The Holocaust increased the pace of arrivals with Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and many emigrated from Eastern Europe and Russia.

In 1947, after years of Arab-Jewish violence, the UN General Assembly voted for the establishment of two states in Palestine – one Jewish and the other Arab. 

Shortly after, the Jewish community in Palestine declared Israel an independent state, prompting hundreds of thousands more Jews to emigrate, and precipitating a war launched by neighboring Arab states.

For their part, Palestinian Arabs say Jews have usurped their ancestral homeland with help from Western powers, including the United States and the United Kingdom. 

The current conflict is notable for pitting Israelis against Israelis, in addition to the depressingly familiar exchange of rocket fire.

Israel’s 21 per cent Arab minority – Palestinian by heritage, Israeli by citizenship – is mostly descended from the Palestinians who lived under Ottoman and then British colonial rule before staying in Israel after the country’s 1948 creation.

Israeli artillery in action on Wednesday. At least 70 people have been killed in the conflict

Israeli artillery in action on Wednesday. At least 70 people have been killed in the conflict

Palestinians leave their neighborhood to head to a safer location on Wednesday in Gaza City

Palestinians leave their neighborhood to head to a safer location on Wednesday in Gaza City

A fire rages at sunrise on Wednesday following an Israeli airstrike on the southern Gaza strip

A fire rages at sunrise on Wednesday following an Israeli airstrike on the southern Gaza strip

Gigi (left) and Bella are seen with their father at a Victoria's Secret party in Paris in 2016

Gigi (left) and Bella are seen with their father at a Victoria’s Secret party in Paris in 2016

Most are bilingual in Arabic and Hebrew, and feel a sense of kinship with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

They often complain of systemic discrimination, unfair access to housing, healthcare, and education services.

Israel’s domestic unrest has been welcomed by Hamas, one of whose spokesmen urged Arab citizens to ‘rise up’ against ‘our enemy and yours’.

Her posts came as Israel’s president warned of a civil war between the country’s Arabs and Jews on Wednesday as fury and fear over shelling exchanges with Palestinian militants in Gaza ignited violence in Israel’s streets.

Appeals by religious and political leaders for calm, and police reinforcements and mass-arrests, appeared to do little to stem riots in several ethnically mixed towns. Israeli TV showed what it described as ‘near-lynchings’ of Jewish and Arab motorists.

The strife was touched off by sometimes violent pro-Palestinian protests by members of the Arab minority incensed at an Israeli air barrage launched on Gaza on Monday after Islamist Hamas-led militants fired salvoes of rockets across the border.

A synagogue and cars were torched in the Tel Aviv suburb of Lod, motorists were stoned on some roads, and Palestinian flag-waving protesters scuffled with police in northern Haifa port.

By Wednesday, police said the assaults appeared to be more by Jews against Arabs – including one seen on live TV as he was dragged from his car and pummeled by a mob in coastal Bat Yam.

The broadcast on the top-rated Channel 12 cut to a phoned-in appeal by President Reuven Rivlin to ‘please stop this madness’.

‘We are endangered by rockets that are being launched at our citizens and streets, and we are busying ourselves with a senseless civil war among ourselves,’ said the president, whose role is largely ceremonial.

Israel’s leaders insist that they are responding to terror attacks launched by Hamas on their legitimate territory, and President Joe Biden has emphasized that Israel is entitled to defend itself from attack.

However, the model had little care for the Israeli point of view.

‘It has always been #freepalestine. ALWAYS,’ she said, captioning her post – which has been ‘liked’ by 1.7 million people.

Bella Hadid, seen at the 2020 MTV Music Awards, is a stridently pro-Palestine campaigner

Bella Hadid, seen at the 2020 MTV Music Awards, is a stridently pro-Palestine campaigner

‘I have a lot to say about this but for now , please read and educate yourself. This is not about religion. This is not about spewing hate on one or the other.

‘This is about Israeli colonization , ethnic cleansing , military occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people that has been going on for YEARS!’

She concluded: ‘I have been told my entire life that who I am : a Palestinian woman – is not real. I’ve been told my father does not have a birth place if he is from Palestine. And I am here to say . Palestine is very much real and the Palestinian people are here to stay and coexist. As they always have.’

The post was also ‘liked’ by her sister, Gigi, who has also shared pro-Palestine posts.

‘One cannot advocate for racial equality, LGBT & women’s rights, condemn corrupt and abusive regimes and other injustices yet choose to ignore the Palestinian oppression,’ she posted.

‘It does not add up. You cannot pick and choose whose human rights matter more.’

Gigi Hadid also made her support for the Palestinian cause clear

Gigi Hadid also made her support for the Palestinian cause clear

Yet it was Bella who was undeniably more active in the cause, posting a stream of pro-Palestine material.

The supermodel knew that she was opening herself to accusations of anti-Semitism: pro-Israel sides frequently argue that supporting Palestine is inherently anti-Semitic, because it questions the Jewish state’s right to exist, and therefore is against all Jews.

However, Bella anticipated the accusations.

She posted a video of Senator Bernie Sanders, during the 2020 election, in which he insisted that demanding an end to the violence was not anti-Semitic.

‘I want to make this very clear,’ Bella wrote.

‘Hate from either side is not okay – I do not condone it!!

‘I will not stand to hear people talk badly about Jewish people through all of this. This is about HUMANITY not about religion !!!! This is about freedom in Palestine.’



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