Actor Mark Ruffalo's apology for social media posts that he said suggested Israel was "committing 'genocide'" amid the recent fighting with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is drawing praise and backlash — highlighting the delicate and fraught nature of the longstanding conflict.
Ruffalo, an outspoken Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated actor, tweeted Monday that he had "reflected & wanted to apologize for posts during the recent Israel/Hamas fighting that suggested Israel is committing 'genocide'" and that "it's not accurate, it's inflammatory, disrespectful & is being used to justify antisemitism here & abroad."
The fighting had escalated for nearly two weeks this month, leaving hundreds dead, the majority Palestinians, and parts of the impoverished Gaza Strip reduced to rubble. A bilateral cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas took hold Friday, but the conflict sparked massive pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the world.
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In the United States, the protests have attracted diverse groups of people, and pro-Palestinian activists have demanded that America end its funding of Israel's military, saying the Biden administration is complicit in "war crimes" in the region, and are calling for an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Meanwhile, American Jewish organizations have reported a wave of antisemitic incidents and apparent hate crime attacks, including against synagogues in suburban Chicago and Tucson, Arizona. Jewish people have also been physically assaulted and harassed in the streets of Los Angeles, New York and South Florida, leading President Joe Biden on Monday to condemn the "hateful behavior." Mosques have also reported anti-Muslim vandalism this month, with one house of worship in Brooklyn getting spray-painted with the phrase, "Death to Palestine."
It's unclear what posts Ruffalo was apologizing for, but he suggested in a May 11 tweet that Israel's actions were comparable to apartheid in South Africa and that sanctions could similarly work against Israel.
"1500 Palestinians face expulsion in #Jerusalem. 200 protesters have been injured. 9 children have been killed," he wrote.
While some Twitter users are thanking Ruffalo, who previously told The Hollywood Reporter that he grew up in a Roman Catholic Italian family, for trying to tamp down the rhetoric surrounding the sensitive subject, others questioned if he is being "intimidated into silence" and "backtracking."
Several celebrities have faced similar criticism in recent days for being vocal about where they stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Over the weekend, the English singer Dua Lipa tweeted in response to an organization that paid for a full-page ad in The New York Times equating her public support of Palestinians as antisemitic. She wrote that the ad used her name "shamelessly" to "advance their ugly campaign with falsehoods and blatant misrepresentations."
"I stand in solidarity with all oppressed people and reject all forms of racism," she added.