Emma Watson attracted significant attention last week for wading into the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict online. A controversial Instagram post from the “Harry Potter” star expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, but multiple pro-Israeli figures were quick to accuse her of antisemitism.
Watson posted a picture of Palestinian protesters with the phrase “Solidarity Is a Verb” over them. The caption quoted feminist scholar Sara Ahmed, who said, “Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future. Solidarity involves commitment, and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we do live on common ground.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan criticized Watson, tweeting, “Fiction may work in Harry Potter but it does not work in reality. If it did, the magic used in the wizarding world could eliminate the evils of Hamas (which oppresses women and seeks the annihilation of Israel) and the PA (which supports terror).” Other former Israeli political figures echoed similar sentiments, accusing Watson of hiding behind antisemitism to criticize a legitimate nation for defending itself against terrorism.
But Watson quickly found plenty of defenders among her film industry peers. Artists for Palestine UK, a cultural network that bills itself as an organization “standing together for Palestinian rights,” has released a statement supporting Watson signed by more than 40 Hollywood figures.
“We join Emma Watson in support of the simple statement that ‘solidarity is a verb,’ including meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law,” the statement reads. Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon, Jim Jarmusch, Viggo Mortenson, Gael García Bernal, Asif Kapadia, Ken Loach, James Schamus, Ramy Youssef, Mira Nair, and Peter Capaldi are among the letter’s signers. The group accuses the Israeli government of exploiting a military power imbalance to implement racist policies and displace people from their homes. The statement also broadly denounces all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Emma Watson is no stranger to international activism, having previously been a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and serving on a G7 advisory board for women’s rights.