Singer Justin Bieber accused of disinformation over pro-Israel post using photo of Gaza
Canadian popstar Justin Bieber caused a stir on social media after sharing a post entitled 'Praying for Israel', showing an image of war-torn Gaza, which has been the target of fierce and indiscriminate Israeli bombing that has killed over 1,400 people.
Bieber shared the post via the Instagram Stories feature on Wednesday, which featured an image of destroyed buildings in the besieged Palestinian territory. The image was originally posted by Churchome, a non-denominational influential US church often frequented by celebrities.
Social media users online were quick to point out that the image was of Gaza and not Israel like Bieber implied, and criticised him for this.
Some accused him of "ignorance and irresponsibility" for posting misinformation, pointing out that he was depicting Israeli atrocities in Gaza while calling for solidarity with Israel on his platform.
Bieber boasts 229 million followers on Instagram.
justin bieber posting “praying for israel” using a picture of a destroyed gaza is actually insane pic.twitter.com/GNcEyhNk6V— Hurt CoPain (@SaeedDiCaprio) October 11, 2023
The singer, who is one of the best-selling music artists of all-time, went on to delete the post within an hour, replacing it with a post with the same 'Praying for Israel' caption, though with no accompanying image.
One user said: "This picture is of my city of birth Gaza where my family continues to survive under constant Israeli bombing and mass devastation as pictured in your story".
The 29-year-old was also criticised for not addressing his initial post, and for not including Palestinians in his prayers as "he has now seen the destruction."
"Just changed it [the post] and went on his day," expressed another user of X, formerly known as Twitter.
In a similar incident earlier this week, US actress Jamie Lee Curtis posted an image of frightened-looking children captioned "terror from the skies" and accompanied by an Israeli flag emoji, believing that the children were Israeli.
Justin Bieber and Jamie Lee Curtis deleting their instagram posts after discovering the pics used are from Palestine are textbook examples of selective outrage pic.twitter.com/vakdCyq4pp— platano papi 🇵🇸 (@platano_padre) October 11, 2023
However, the image was of Palestinian children seeking refuge at an UNRWA school in northern Gaza as Israel relentlessly bombarded the Strip on Saturday, in retaliation for the cross-border attack carried out by Hamas on the same day.
Curtis even tagged the image’s photographer in her post, who happens to be Gaza-based New York Times photographer Samar Abu Elouf.
The actress, who has voiced support for Israel amid the war, deleted the post. She went on to share a black-and-white image of two faceless children, captioned with "In war ALL children should be protected."
The two incidents prompted activists online to accuse both Bieber and Curtis of "selective outrage" and for misusing their platform regarding misinformation, all while "ignoring Palestinian suffering".
Israel's ferocious assaults have killed at least 1,417 people in Gaza, and wounded over 6,000 as of Thursday.
The coastal enclave is also under complete siege and the Israeli government says it will cut off food, water, and fuel until Hamas releases Israelis held hostage.
At least 1,300 Israelis have been killed, with thousands injured, as the war in the region has now entered its sixth day.