Comedian Chelsea Handler faces backlash over pro-Israel TikTok video

Comedian Chelsea Handler faces backlash over pro-Israel TikTok video
The TikTok video post, which featured the American comedian being interviewed by pro-Israel advocate Noa Tishby, has been condemned by pro-Palestine supporters
3 min read
30 December, 2023
US comedian Chelsea Handler has faced criticism for her recent appearance in a TikTok video that declared her support for Israel [Getty]

US comedian and actor Chelsea Handler has been slammed by TikTok users following her recent appearance in a video posted by pro-Israel advocate Noa Tishby on the social media platform. 

Labelled as "pro-Israel propaganda" bait by critics, Handler joined Tishby in a video post on 22 December in support of Israel, while also labelling herself as "pro-Palestinian and anti-Hamas". However, the main aim of the video appeared to be defending Israel from criticism of its relentless attacks on Gaza since October 7. 

In the video, both Tishby and Handler made a series of claims that included how US “progressives, especially on college campuses” have been particularly critical of Israel’s intense military offensive.

Tishby argued that such critics “victim blame Israel for the entire situation to begin with”, while Handler added that “progressives should love Israel”. 

The nearly two-minute video also repeated the claim that Israel is the “single consistent democracy” in the Middle East and alleged that it values press freedom, same-sex marriage, women’s rights and freedom of religion

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Handler added that Israel represents the protection of “Western democracy and Western values.” 

Many users on TikTok have since lambasted the video post since its upload last week, including notable pro-Palestine voices on the platform who denounced Handler for her participation. 

Simone Umba, a TikTok content creator who has visibly shared content on Gaza, hit back at Handler’s claims she was both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. 

“If you were pro-Palestine, then you’d be asking for a ceasefire because Israel is responsible for over 20,000 [killings] in Gaza and the West Bank,” Umba in a TikTok video. 

Comedian Mohanad Elshieky also shared his reaction, questioning her viewpoints after Handler released her 2019 Netflix documentary ‘Hello, Privilege. It's Me Chelsea’ which tackled white privilege in the US. 

“This is some 2003 level propaganda- like it’s so hack,” Elshieky said in a video. “Come up with new material. This is some freedom fries level of thinking. I think you can do better racism wise- you can do so much better than this.” 

In disagreement with Handler, others posted videos that were also said to debunk pro-Israel narratives on TikTok, including statements that declared Israel had legalised gay marriage. 

Same-sex marriage is illegal in Israel and such unions are only recognised when performed abroad since 2006. 

In October, Handler also joined celebrities such as Gal Gadot and Jerry Seinfeld in signing on open letter that thanked US President Joe Biden for his allegiance to Israel during its war on besieged Gaza. 

However, another letter demanded a ceasefire in Gaza and expanding humanitarian aid, and was signed by several big names, including Jennifer Lopez and Drake. 

Palestinians killed by Israel in recent wars on Gaza

Artists for Palestine UK had additionally outlined their demands for an immediate ceasefire and a halt to Israeli "war crimes" in an open letter signed by figures such as Tilda Swinton and Miriam Margolyes. 

The letter condemned "every act of violence against civilians and every infringement of international law whoever perpetrates them".   

In the latest development in Israel's war, tens of thousands of newly displaced Gazans sought refuge in the centre of the Palestinian enclave after fleeing an Israeli tank offensive, while warplanes attacking the south which flattened homes and buried families as they slept. 

On Friday, South Africa asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an urgent order declaring that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its brutal war on Gaza. 

At least 21,672 Palestinians have been killed and 56,165 have been wounded in Israeli strikes in Gaza since October 7, the health ministry in Gaza said on Saturday. 

The figures include 165 Palestinians killed and 250 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.