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Jerry Seinfeld, Scooter Braun, Debra Messing, Montana Tucker among celebrities and influencers who have headed to Israel to ‘bear witness’ after Oct. 7 massacre

(JTA) — In the months since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, waves of prominent people have made their way to Israel to bear witness to what happened there. Foreign dignitaries, Diaspora rabbis and business leaders have all toured ravaged kibbutzes, met with hostage families and participated in the country’s sweeping volunteer effort.

Now, the influencers have arrived.

Over the last week, a slew of actors, comedians, music executives and social media personalities, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, have visited Israel, showcasing their experiences to their millions of fans and followers on Instagram and TikTok. 

Such trips are part of a broad effort to bring people with major audiences to Israel. Last month, James Maslow, one of the stars of Nickelodeon’s band and TV show “Big Time Rush,” visited Israel on a similar, funded trip for celebrities and influencers, whose organizers recently posted on LinkedIn that they were looking for more participants for a December trip.

Here are snapshots from the visits of some of the biggest names broadcasting from Israel right now.

Montana Tucker

Jewish singer and influencer Montana Tucker also arrived in Israel late last week and visited Kfar Aza, one of the kibbutzes hit hardest during the massacres on Oct. 7. She met with representatives from Zaka, the Orthodox Israeli first-responder organization that has been collecting and documenting much of the evidence of the massacres and violence from Oct. 7, and called them “superheroes” in an Instagram story she shared Monday.

“The work they do is unlike any other,” Tucker said. “They had to go collect all of the bodies/body parts after the massacres. The things they have seen… no one should ever have to see in their lives.”

“Will never be able to comprehend how human beings could do this to other human beings,” she added.

Tucker, who has more than 12 million followers on TikTok and Instagram combined, is typically known for her dance videos. Earlier this year, she created a short documentary about her family’s visit to Auschwitz concentration camp in 2022. Since then, she has used her platform to promote Holocaust education awareness, and even interviewed Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff in March about his visit to Auschwitz. Tucker was also in attendance at the United Nations Special Session on Sexual Violence Against Israelis and sang “Hatikva,” the Israeli national anthem, at the close of the session.

While in Israel, she participated in a flash mob with Noam Ben David, one of the survivors of the Nova Music Festival, who now uses a wheelchair.

Jerry Seinfeld

Jewish Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his family arrived in Israel Monday and met with the families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and those recently released from captivity. 

In a post shared on Instagram by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the organization representing those kidnapped in Gaza, the comedian was pictured wearing a “Bring them home now” dog tag that has become symbolic of the movement.

“It was evident that they were deeply affected by the experiences they heard from the family members and the released hostages,” the post said of the Seinfeld family’s visit with the hostage families.

“We thank the Seinfeld family for their moving visit to the families’ headquarters and their unwavering support for the families of the hostages. We are confident that their support will be a significant and important step in our shared mission to bring about the immediate and safe return home of all the hostages.”

Caroline D’Amore

Caroline D’Amore, a model, actress, DJ, and reality TV star landed in Israel on Dec. 13. She has more than 120,000 Instagram followers and announced on the social media platform last week that she was headed to Israel “instead of trying to sort through comments, news articles and BS propaganda.”

On Dec. 14, D’Amore, who is not Jewish, went to the site of the Nova Music Festival, where she said she immediately began crying, and met with the family of one of the victims of the massacre.

“Attacking innocent party goers is not a fight for freedom. It’s cowardice and cruel and pure evil. Anyone who celebrates this is gone and needs serious help,” she wrote.

“You’ve lost your humanity. Anyone who says this was a resistance to their oppressor is an extremely lost soul,” she added. “Come here. Meet these families. Stand in their shoes.” 

D’Amore began sharing posts about the atrocities of Oct. 7 less than two weeks after the massacre, and since then, much of her content has pivoted toward drawing attention to the hostages. Her posts have drawn much criticism both in the comments and from people sharing her videos on other platforms, with allegations of “white supremacy,” “Zionist lies, propaganda and war crimes” and questions as to why she has not addressed the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“Oct 7th was not a fight for freedom,” she wrote in the post from the Nova festival site. “It was a group of terrorists trying to kill as many innocent Jewish people as possible and then call home so their parents could be proud of them. This is the truth. This is the terrifying truth of what happened on Oct 7th.”

Debra Messing

Actress and comedian Debra Messing, who has made appearances at the rally for Israel in Washington and at the United Nations Special Session on Sexual Violence Against Israelis, went to Israel for her first time this week — and also made a trip to Gaza with writer and comedian Lee Kern. (Kern is known for co-producing and writing “Who is America,” the political mockumentary series starring Sacha Baron Cohen.) Messing and Cohen were among a group of Jewish celebrities involved in a phone call with TikTok executives criticizing the company for its failure to curb antisemitism on the video platform.

Speaking to conservative British commentator Douglas Murray while in Gaza, Messing said, “I wanted to bear witness and I wanted to thank the troops and I wanted to see what happened here on October 7 and I just wish the whole world could be here and see it in person because nothing can transmit the magnitude of what happened here. But I’m going to do my best to share my experience with everybody. That’s why I’m here.”

Michael Rapaport

Actor and comedian Michael Rapaport, who has been vocal about the Israeli cause since the beginning of the war and spoke at the March for Israel in Washington, has been in Israel for the past week, meeting with released hostages, families of those in captivity, and touring the ravaged kibbutzim with Montana Tucker. Last week, the Jewish comedian appeared on “Eretz Nehederet,” the Israeli late-night comedy show, in a sketch mocking the congressional hearing on university antisemitism, in the style of Harry Potter. (The sketch succeeded another, poorly received one on the same topic on “Saturday Night Live” two days earlier.) 

Michael Rapaport and Montana Tucker embrace at Kfar Aza, one of the sites worst hit during the Oct. 7 attack. (Screenshot via Instagram)

Though Rapaport has become popular for his advocacy regarding the release of hostages, support for the Israeli army, and calling out antisemitism, he has gained a reputation for his incendiary language related to Palestinians, and also for posting graphic content related to the war. 

Scooter Braun

Music executive Scooter Braun, known for managing the careers of Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Kanye West and Taylor Swift — the last of which ended in an ownership dispute over the rights to her own music — has spent the past two months using his various social media platforms to draw attention to the hostages and the rise in antisemitism that has accompanied the war in Gaza. 

On Monday, Braun, who is Jewish, visited Kibbutz Be’eri, near the Gaza border.

“Today… was…a… day,” he shared on Instagram. “I am deeply glad I came. This is not a political trip. This is about humanity and support for those innocent lost on October 7th and the hostages still missing. What I saw and witnessed today will never leave me. I felt pain for the entire region. I saw it with my own eyes. I saw pain and sadness and grief while all at the same moment witnessing love and hope and conviction. I walked away overwhelmed and empowered all at once.”

Emily Austin

Jewish sports reporter and social media influencer Emily Austin called her visit to Israel an “emotional roller coaster.”

“Tears, smiles, and screaming (we encountered multiple close calls) and everything in between,” she wrote in an Instagram post Friday. “I’m grateful to be in country [sic] full of such special people, who put their lives on the line every day to protect their existence. I am proud to be an Israeli, forever and always.”

Austin, along with Caroline D’Amore, visited some of the kibbutzim that were attacked on Oct. 7, and wrote in another post that “pictures and videos will never do justice to depict the evil that occurred this day.”

Gregg Sulkin

Actor in Marvel’s “The Runaways” and former Disney Channel star Gregg Sulkin arrived in Israel Tuesday morning and spoke with families of the hostages. He also met with Moran Yanai, a jewelry designer from Beersheba who was kidnapped from the Nova Music Festival and released from captivity on Nov. 29.

“Returning to the Western Wall, years after my Bar Mitzvah, I felt a profound connection to my heritage,” the Jewish actor wrote on Instagram. “Standing here, I am reminded of the enduring spirit and resilience of the Jewish people. In the shadow of these ancient stones, I reflect on our everlasting prayers for peace. Proud of my roots, humbled by our history, and committed to a future where peace reigns supreme.”

He also shared a picture of his hostages dog tag and an Israeli flag emoji.

British Jewish actor Gregg Sulkin shared a picture of a hostages dog tag and an Israeli flag emoji during his visit to Israel on Wed. Dec. 19 2023. (Screenshot via Instagram Stories)

The post Jerry Seinfeld, Scooter Braun, Debra Messing, Montana Tucker among celebrities and influencers who have headed to Israel to ‘bear witness’ after Oct. 7 massacre appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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‘Despicable’: Harvard Denounces Nazi-Esque Image Shared by Anti-Zionist Faculty Group

Pro-Hamas students rallying at Harvard University. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Harvard University denounced an antisemitic image depicting a Jew lynching an African American and an Arab which was released by a faculty anti-Zionist group on social media.

“The university is aware of social media posts today containing deeply offensive antisemitic tropes and messages from organizations whose membership includes Harvard affiliates,” the university said, speaking from its Instagram account. “Such despicable messages have no place in the Harvard community. We condemn these posts in the strongest possible terms.”

Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP), a group which describes itself as a “collective” committed to falsely accusing Israel of genocide and dispossession — terms one finds on the fringes of the extreme right — initiated this latest controversy. The image it shared shows a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David containing a dollar sign at its center dangling a Black man and an Arab man from a noose. In its posterior, an arm belonging to an unknown person of color wields a machete that says, “Liberation Movement.”

“African people have a profound understanding of apartheid and occupation,” says a graphic in which the image appears. “The historical roots of solidarity between Black liberation movements and Palestinian liberation began in the late 1960s. This period was marked by a heightened awareness among Black organizations in the United States.”

It continued, “The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] linked Zionism to an imperial project while the Black Panther Party aligned itself with the Palestinian resistance, framing both struggles as part of a unified front against racism, Zionism, and imperialism.”

On Monday, Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine — whose 112 founding members include professors Walter Johnson, Jennifer Brody, Diane Moore, Charlie Prodger, Leslie Fernandez, Khameer Kidia, and Duncan Kennedy — apologized for sharing the image and suggested that it was unaware of its own social media activity.

“It has come to our attention that a post featuring antiquated cartoons which used offensive antisemitic tropes was linked to our account,” the group said. “We removed the content as soon as it came to our attention. We apologize for the hurt that these images have caused and do not condone them in any way.”

Two other student groups have apologized for sharing the image, according to The Harvard Crimson. In a joint statement, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African and American Resistance Organization said “our mutual goals for liberation will always include the Jewish community — and we regret inadvertently including an image that played upon antisemitic tropes.”

The past four months have been described by critics of Harvard as a low-point in the history of the school, America’s oldest and, arguably, most prestigious institution of higher education. Since the October 7 massacre by Hamas, Harvard has been accused of fostering a culture of racial grievance and antisemitism, while important donors have suspended funding for programs. Its first Black president, Claudine Gay, resigned in disgrace last month after being outed as a serial plagiarist. Her tenure was the shortest in the school’s history.

As scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005. In the weeks that followed, anti-Zionists stormed the campus screaming “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “globalize the intifada,” terrorizing Jewish students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

The university is currently being investigated by the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. It was recently subpoenaed by the body after weeks of allegedly obstructing the inquiry.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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The Red Cross Has Abandoned Israeli Hostages and Its Pretense of Neutrality

A Red Cross vehicle, as part of a convoy believed to be carrying hostages abducted by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, arrives at the Rafah border, amid a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel, as seen from southern Gaza, Nov. 24, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The Red Cross has once again failed the Jewish people by choosing to appease its enemies rather than help those in need.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in its mission statement, claims to be “an impartial, neutral, and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.”

The actions of the Red Cross since October 7, however, show that it does not consider the lives and dignity of all victims to be equal. Instead, the Red Cross has fallen in line with those who refuse to condemn Hamas and ignore the atrocities perpetrated against Israelis.

This isn’t the first time that the Red Cross has ignored the suffering of Jewish people to avoid offending those who seek to eliminate the Jewish people. The Red Cross has received three Nobel Peace Prizes, including one in 1944 for its services in World War II, but decades later, we know the whole truth.

Documents released after the war revealed that the Red Cross was well aware of the Nazis’ genocide of the Jews and chose to remain silent. The Red Cross defended itself by claiming that if it had disclosed what it knew, “it would have lost its ability to inspect prisoner-of-war camps on both sides of the front.” Although the Red Cross has apologized for its inaction in confronting the Holocaust, the bias the ICRC has shown against Israel makes that apology ring hollow.

Magen David Adom, Israel’s official emergency service, was founded in 1930 and ratified as a National Red Cross Society by the Knesset in 1950. However, the Red Cross refused to allow Magen David Adom entry to the international organization because the latter wanted to use the Star of David as its symbol in place of a red cross.  Even though Muslim Red Cross organizations use a red crescent as their symbol, Israel is singled out for refusal.  Only after 76 years of life-saving work was Magen David Adom finally accepted by the ICRC in 2006.

The Red Cross has conducted itself similarly since Hamas took Israeli hostages. The Red Cross gained much acclaim for bringing Israeli hostages home after they were released. However, the Red Cross played no part in the negotiations that led to the release, and made no effort to visit the hostages while they were imprisoned.

This is in stark contrast to past hostage crises. During the Iranian hostage crisis, the Red Cross visited the occupied US embassy in Tehran. When 72 Japanese hostages were kidnapped by guerrilla forces in Peru in 1996, the Red Cross provided food and medical assistance. When New York Times reporter David Rohde was held by the Taliban in 2008, the Red Cross delivered him a letter from his wife. When more than 240 hostages were taken from Israel, however, the Red Cross did nothing.

The Red Cross responded to a recent lawsuit filed by Israeli hostages, which claims that the Red Cross neglected its duty to visit prisoners of war, by saying: “The more public pressure we seemingly would do, the more they [Hamas] would shut the door.”

The evidence shows that the Red Cross did not try very hard. UN Watch compiled a report showing that the ICRC’s social media posts were heavily biased in favor of Hamas, and refused to acknowledge Hamas’ atrocities and the plight of the Israeli hostages.

When families of the hostages asked the Red Cross to deliver life-saving medications to their family members in captivity, they were scolded and told to “think about the Palestinian side.” by the ICRC.

Since the beginning of the current war, the Red Cross has pumped millions of dollars into Gaza, along with supplies, infrastructure, and medical teams. Hamas, of course, has a long history of shamelessly stealing money and supplies that were intended for civilians, a fact that the ICRC knows, and, unsurprisingly, Hamas has continued to do so during this current war.

The Red Cross has both the leverage and the stature to gain access to the Israeli hostages and even to push for their release. They were even able to leverage the Taliban into granting access to hostages in the past. People listen to the Red Cross. But they also hear the Red Cross’ silence.

When the Red Cross speaks about the Israel-Hamas conflict without mentioning Hamas’ attacks, and its president meets with Hamas’ leader but does not advocate for Israeli hostages, the message is clear.

The Red Cross’ historical and current actions seem to suggest that it does not value Israeli lives as much as other people’s. It is time for the international community to ask the Red Cross why it looks out for all of those in need, except for Jews.

Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum and a former official in the Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

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The Media Is Still Swallowing Hamas’ Lies About Israel

A supporter of Hamas demonstrates outside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Photo: Reuters/Piroschka van de Wouw

While Israel is winning its war to eliminate the existential threat posed by Hamas’ massive tunnel complex/fortress in Gaza, Israel is losing the propaganda battle against a pro-Palestinian narrative demonizing Israel’s conduct of the war. That narrative puts aside Hamas’ horrific crimes against humanity that triggered Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, and adopts an account that Israel is “indiscriminately killing” Gazans as part of a “genocidal” campaign.

Hamas displays emotional images of Gazans massed in crowded hospital wards, or combing ruins for lost loved ones, and then proclaims to the world that there have been more than 25,000 innocent victims of Israel’s invidious conduct.

To begin with, there is no way to verify any of those numbers, or to tell who among the actual numbers killed are innocent civilians, and who are associated with Hamas and other terror groups. (Remember the hospital bombing at the start of the war, where they claimed 500 casualties, but we later learned from US intelligence analysts that far fewer were killed, and the “attack” was the result of a misfired terrorist rocket).

Furthermore, the issue is not whether Gazans have experienced dreadful suffering. They clearly have. The issue is whom to blame.

Major media outlets have frequently adopted the portrayal of Israel’s conduct in the war as a wanton destruction of Gaza, and the purposeful targeting of civilians.

Unlike Hamas, however, Israel never intentionally targets civilians — nor does it aim for wanton destruction in Gaza.

Any fair assessment of Israel’s military behavior must account for Hamas’ decision to fight in civilian areas, and use civilians and civilian infrastructure as human shields. Hamas’ vast underground fortress is accessed through shafts in or near residential buildings and public structures. Hamas also stores weaponry in civilian structures, and launches rockets and mortars from populated areas.

Experts in urban warfare confirm that the IDF has taken considerable measures to avoid civilian casualties. John Spencer teaches urban warfare at West Point Military Academy. Spencer wrote in Newsweek last week that the IDF, “has implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other military in history.”  He marvels that the IDF has delayed scheduled assaults, furnished copious advance warnings, and provided designated civilian evacuation routes before attacks.

Colonel Richard Kemp is a former British infantry battalion commander with 30 years of experience, including rounds of urban combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kemp commends the IDF on its adherence to the laws of armed conflict — in its choice of munitions, proportionality in choosing targets according to strategic gain versus civilian risk, and advance warnings enabling civilians to evacuate. As to the leveling of civilian structures, Kemp points to the nature of Hamas’ current operations — fighters in civilian clothing moving on thoroughfares to collect weapons stashed in civilian buildings in order to carry out ambush attacks. The structures look abandoned, but may well be booby trapped or may house anti-armor weaponry.

Hamas regularly employs the stratagem of distorting and manipulating casualty figures to suit its narrative that Israel is maliciously and unjustifiably killing civilians. Hamas’ casualty counts are consistently inflated and do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. The intended implication is that only civilians have been targeted by the IDF. Mass media regularly buys into this Hamas stratagem by simply reciting Hamas’ asserted casualty figures and not mentioning when people killed are terrorists or affiliated with terror groups.

An article in the Feb. 12 New York Times by Patrick Kingsley and Hiba Yazbeck typifies the media’s willingness to slant reportage in favor of a pro-Hamas narrative. (“Israeli Raid in Rafiah Rescues 2 Hostages and Kills Dozens.”) The article was prompted by an IDF special forces raid into a Hamas stronghold, Rafah, in order to rescue two Israeli men, aged 60 and 70, who had been kidnapped on October 7 from their kibbutz and held captive for 125 days. The Times report devotes no attention to the incredible sophistication of the rescue operation — the intelligence that pinpointed the locus of captivity, the daring dispatch of a special forces unit to the heart of Hamas’ Rafah, and a coordinated execution that extracted the hostages from their heavily armed Hamas captors without unnecessarily harming civilians.

The Times article’s first sentence mentions a rescue raid, and then promptly shifts to an accusation that Israel “launched a wave of attacks that killed dozens of Palestinians…” Like Hamas in its casualty reports, the article makes no distinction between combatant and civilian deaths. There’s no mention of the fact that many of those Palestinian deaths were Hamas combatants killed as the IDF burst in to rescue the hostages, and as the IDF escaped through armed resistance in the city.

The Kingsley/Yazbeck story also glosses over the Hamas war crimes that necessitated the IDF raid. Two-thirds of the way through the article, it notes in passing that the two freed hostages had been held in captivity for over 120 days (but the article does not note that they had been violently wrenched from their kibbutz homes along with their spouses who were later ransomed or that other family members were murdered on October 7). In short, the focus on “dozens of Palestinians killed” in the rescue mission is a parroting of Hamas propaganda that Israel is engaged in malicious killing of innocent Gazan civilians.

While experts like Spencer and Kemp credit Israel with commendable adherence to the norms of warfare, there have been some ostensible IDF deviations from those norms. An IDF spokesman has acknowledged that at least on one occasion, an excessively large bomb was employed that caused unnecessary civilian casualties. In another incident, Israelis were shocked and disturbed when an IDF unit killed 3 bare-chested men advancing toward the unit while waving a white flag. (The victims turned out to be Israeli hostages who had escaped from their Hamas captors). Another report exists of an Israeli soldier shooting and killing a captive Hamas fighter following an interrogation — a clear war crime if confirmed. These possible crimes are being probed by the IDF military police and, if documented, hopefully will be punished. Hamas, by contrast, proudly flaunts its most glaring war crimes by celebrating the intentional massacre of civilians, and by demanding the return of terrorist murderers in exchange for the remaining civilian hostages.

There is no equivalence between the two sides; but the media will never tell you that story.

Norman L. Cantor is Professor of Law Emeritus at Rutgers University Law School where he taught for 35 years. He also served as visiting professor at Columbia, Seton Hall, Tel Aviv University, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published five books, scores of scholarly articles in law journals, and dozens of blog length commentaries in outlets like The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and The Algemeiner. His personal blog is He lives in Tel Aviv and in Hoboken, NJ. 

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