'Showing solidarity isn't antisemitism': Public figures, netizens defend Emma Watson's pro-Palestine stance

Published 06 Jan, 2022 05:03pm

Images Staff

Actor's Instagram post sparked arguments on what the term 'antisemitism' actually means.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

British actor Emma Watson has come under scrutiny for a pro-Palestinian post she shared on Instagram on January 2, a move which drew accusations of "antisemitism" from Israeli politicians and supporters. However, many defended Watson, questioning why the term antisemitism has been weaponised to "to shut down basic expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people".

The 31-year-old — who rose to fame for her portrayal of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies — reposted a post originally shared by the Bad Activist Collective on Instagram. The post includes a picture showing pro-Palestinian supporters with the quote "solidarity is a verb" overlaid on it. The caption included a poem by British-Australian scholar Sara Ahmed about what solidarity truly entails.

Former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon strongly criticised her post, calling Watson an "antisemite". The current ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, also voiced his disagreement with Watson's stance.

Criticism by Israeli politicians received pushback from several public figures on social media. "A perfect demonstration of the utterly cynical and bad-faith weaponisation of antisemitism to shut down basic expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people," tweeted Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of Indivisible, a US-based political campaign organisation.

"Repeat after me Mr…. Showing solidarity with Palestinians is not antisemitism. Appalling comments from former Israeli Ambassador to the UN. These constant attempts to stifle any and all support for Palestinians must be called out. Solidarity with Emma Watson," said Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a member of the British House of Lords.

"All Emma Watson did was post this very simple statement and now Zionists everywhere are in a frenzy. Absolutely hilarious," said Mohammed El-Kurd, a prominent Palestinian activist from Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

Journalist Mehdi Hasan called Danon's comments "beyond parody".

"The attacks on Emma Watson's tame solidarity message reveal that there are those for whom it would always be wrong to support Palestinians or criticise Israel," tweeted one user. "This effectively means that whatever Israel does — it should be beyond criticism."

"Equating support for Palestinians to antisemitism presumes that repression of the Palestinian people is an inherently Jewish quality, which is the real antisemitic sentiment here," tweeted another user.

On a lighter note, author and lawyer Khaled Beydoun praised Watson and tweeted how she "has done more for Palestinians than DJ Khaled". Beydoun's tweet is a subtle dig at the American-Palestinian DJ who was criticised in 2021 for not condemning the attacks on Palestine strongly enough.

A long-held argument of the anti-Palestinian movement is that calling for a free Palestine is akin to antisemitism. Model Bella Hadid was on the receiving end of a lot of backlash and claims of antisemitism after she was vocal about her support for the Palestinian cause. Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo withdrew his support for Palestine and apologised after criticism.