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March 23, 2022 3:29 pm

Supermodel Bella Hadid Says Call to ‘Free Palestine From River to Sea’ Was About Israel, Not ‘Judaism’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Anti-Israel influencer and supermodel Bella Hadid. Photo: Reuters / Joe Penney.

Supermodel Bella Hadid doubled down on her criticism of Israel in her cover story for Vogue magazine’s April issue, when asked about accusations of antisemitism for participating in a rally that called for the end of the Jewish state.

On May 15, the 25-year-old participated in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in New York during the conflict between Israel and Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip. She joined protesters in chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which calls for the destruction of the Jewish state in favor of a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

At the time, Hadid — whose mother is Dutch-born former model Yolanda Hadid and father is Nazareth-born Jordanian real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid — shared on social media a live stream video from the demonstration, and that day posted on Instagram in support of “Free Palestine.” She also accused Israel of “colonization, ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people that has been going on for YEARS!”

The Israeli government’s official Twitter account later charged the model with advocating for the “elimination of the Jewish State” by taking part in the protest. A petition was also launched urging major companies to drop her and her sister, fellow supermodel Gigi Hadid, as brand ambassadors for inciting antisemitism and spreading “misinformation” about Israel.

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Bella commented on her participation in the protest and the accusations of antisemitism by telling Vogue, “I truly respect Judaism, and I think it’s a beautiful religion.”

“This is about a government system suppressing people,” she continued. “After that happened, I spent days miserable in my own thoughts, trying to write everything down. And it always just felt like I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. I would never want anyone not to be able to have a place that they feel is their home. But I feel that Palestinians deserve the same. It’s a big conundrum.”

Bella also told Vogue that while she did not have a religious upbringing, she grew up around the Jewish traditions of her friends and godparents. She also has an interest in Islam, her father’s faith, and said, “I’m very spiritual, and I find that I connect with every religion. There’s that my-way-is-the-right-way thing in human nature, but for me it’s not about my god or your god. I kind of just call on whoever is willing to be there for me.”

Bella and Gigi have both shared numerous messages on social media harshly criticizing Israel, accusing the Jewish state of engaging in the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians. Earlier in March, Gigi compared Ukrainians suffering under the present Russian invasion to “those experiencing the same in Palestine.”

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