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Celebrities’ Comments On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Spark Controversy

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The crisis in the Middle East has many celebrities around the world weighing in on the conflict, but their comments have also sparked plenty of controversy.

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz epitomize Hollywood glamour, but now they’ve stepped into a political storm, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported.

“Via a letter in Spanish newspapers, they became the most high-profile celebrities to come out against Israel’s action in the Middle East, and they called it a genocide,” explained Matt Belloni, with ‘Hollywood Reporter.’

Joined by nearly 100 Spanish entertainers, Bardem and Cruz signed a letter calling for a cease-fire and an end to the blockade of Gaza.

Actor Jon Voight blasted the couple, saying they’ve incited anti-Semitism, Brennan reported.

“Celebrities are people and they are entitled to their opinions, however they do have a massive audience so they need to be careful about what they say,” said Hillary Sheinbaum, with ‘Life & Style.’

Sheinbaum said many celebrities have not been as careful as they should be.

One Direction band member Zane Malyk tweeted “#FreePalestine,” and the response was furious with some of his 13 million followers making death threats.

A similar pro-Palestinian tweet from Rihanna, which was removed only minutes after it was put up, received a barrage of irate responses.

And Selena Gomez recently clarified she wasn’t picking sides in the conflict, after she used Instagram to urge people to pray for Gaza, Brennan reported.

Among those who ripped Gomez was comedian Joan Rivers, who has been outspoken in her support for Israel.

“Let’s see if she can spell Palestinian,” Rivers joked. “If New Jersey were firing rockets into New York, we would wipe them out.”

Talk show host Bill Maher triggered a fire storm with a pro-Israel tweet, saying “Dealing with Hamas is like dealing with a crazy woman who is trying to kill you.”

Meanwhile, some celebrities have taken a more moderate position.

“The only thing we can do as one is make a decision that we want peace, not to support or perpetuate violence by funding military activity on either side,” said Russell Brand.

Celebrity experts say it’s probably best to think twice before you tweet once, Brennan reported.

“I think a great rule of thumb is to count to ten, maybe think over your tweet, run it by a few people first, and then post,” Sheinbaum said.

Both Bardem and Cruz have released statements clarifying their position, insisting they detest anti-Semitism, and have great respect for the people of Israel. They said they were making a plea for peace.

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