Gigi Hadid recently received major backlash for voicing her support for Palestine. Following fatal clashes at the Gaza border this month, the model, who is half-Palestinian, weighed in on the ongoing conflict on social media. The outspoken model shared screenshots of a news article reporting on the issue, and took to Twitter to share her views. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. For me, this is not about religion or one against the other – it’s about the greed,” she wrote, adding the hashtags “Free Palestine,” “Free Gaza,” and “Coexist,” with a peace-sign emoji. She later tweeted: “My intent is never to further separate groups in hatred. I’m not anti-anyone. I am only pro-coexistence.”
Her remarks sparked thousands of reactions from fans, including comments from opposing sides who condemned her for her choice of words. “I’m saying coexistence is not to live in greed,” clarified Hadid.
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) May 15, 2018
Hadid and her family – some of whom currently still reside in Palestine – have always openly supported their roots. Her younger sister, Bella, has attended pro-Palestine marches, and the two sisters both protested Donald Trump’s immigration ban in New York City last year. However, following the backlash, a frustrated Hadid declared she was no longer going to voice her opinions. “I’m just gunna start keeping my opinions to myself. Social media is one of the most frustrating and twisted things,” she wrote. “Don’t be surprised when your faves drop off, it’s a double-edged sword. Everything’s taken & read the wrong way bc tweets can never show real depth.”
This left many fans disappointed, particularly her supporters with Palestinian roots, many of whom came together to write her a letter, which was published on Teen Vogue this week.
The letter, titled “Letter to Gigi Hadid from Palestinian Youth,” was written by more than 100 Palestinian fans who reside everywhere from Gaza and Dubai to New York. In the letter, the fans express their support for the model and urge her to continue voicing her opinions and speaking out for the marginalized people in Palestine.
“Dear Gigi Hadid, we, a group of young Palestinians across the globe, are writing to you today to express our love and solidarity. Every single one of us knows the pushback and anxiety that comes with speaking out for our people and their basic rights,” began the letter. “We are here to encourage and support you. Please don’t let anyone silence your voice and your truth.”
The post goes on to state that while the teens can understand why Hadid would choose to stay silent, things are changing, with many high-profile celebrities speaking out against the oppression of the Palestinian people. “We can’t imagine how stressful being in the public eye can be and, as individuals who deal with various forms of trauma, anxiety, and depression (among other conditions) as a result of the struggles of our families, communities, and people back home, we understand if you decide to hold back. But whatever you decide to do, know that things are changing, with many young people now supporting Palestinians. Celebrities such as Judd Apatow, Ava DuVernay, Yara Shahidi, Rowan Blanchard, and more are speaking up for Palestinians.”
What the letter managed to do most effectively was to underscore how much a public figure speaking out against the injustices faced by Palestinians means to those marginalized. “Whenever you or your sister Bella comment on Palestine, Palestinians in the diaspora and in the region rejoice. When you speak on an issue that is close to your heart, it is inspiring to your following and the many young people who look up to you. Even if only a fraction of your fans were to better understand and support Palestinian justice as a result, your voice is incredibly impactful and meaningful.” The powerful note concluded with a quote by civil rights activist Ella Baker: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest.”