Back in July, singer/actress Selena Gomez endured some backlash when she posted “It’s About Humanity / Pray For Gaza” on her Instagram account. She soon felt the effects of the post from fans across the country and the globe.
She received a letter from two of her “biggest fans” who are currently living in the middle of the crisis in Israel. They live mere miles from the Gaza border and met with Rachel Delia Benhaim, writer for Jewcy.com. Benhaim, after an interview with the girls, wrote this letter to Gomez.
Here are the highlights:
I’m writing to you on behalf of two 12-year-old girls living in Southern Israel who were upset by something you posted on Instagram a few weeks ago – a post which expresses sympathy for the people of Gaza, but also provided a space for your followers to condemn and delegitimize the State of Israel in the comments.
I met Noa and Yarden* in Southern Israel while I was doing some reporting for a few stories about religion and conflict in that region. This may be a bold statement, but they’re your biggest fans – seriously, your biggest fans. “Selena Gomez,” cried Yarden. “I love her! I love her music!”
And then you let them down. You hurt them. You prayed for Gaza, but not Israel, taking sides in a conflict that is not your own. By doing that, you isolated some fans.
Selena, Noa and Yarden have something to say. They love you. They idolize you. That’s why they want to say this – because they’re worried that their idol hates them simply because they’re Israeli. I wanted to relay their message to you.
“Everything you say about the Arab/Israeli conflict is wrong. It’s so much more complicated than anyone not living here can imagine,” Yarden said. “Even the people in central and northern Israel don’t understand it the way we do. So, Selena, why did you say what you did?”
“To you, Rihanna, and anyone else who has anything ill to say about us and our people,” Noa added, “come visit us, spend a day in our life and see what it’s like.”
Israelis, like all Middle Easterners, are known for their generosity and hospitality. “We’d be more than happy to host you for however long,” Yarden said. “You can even stay with me or Noa – we have safe rooms, bomb shelters, in our houses. We have to, given the number of rockets that are fired at us daily.”
“We live in our shelters now,” she continued. “They still shake, a lot, but when shrapnel falls from the intercepted rockets, at least it can’t hit us. We hardly ever leave our shelters.”
The letter goes on to explain the fear that has captured their lives and what they must endure on a daily basis since the conflict began.
Selena, after the backlash of her first post, took to her Instagram again, but this time, tried a softer approach: “And to be clear, I am not picking any sides. I am praying for peace and humanity for all!”
*The girls’ names have been changed.
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Photo Credit: Lunchbox LP (Flickr)