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Why Do “Women of Power” Like Amy Schumer Not Speak Up for Intersectional Women’s Issues?

by Mohsina Alam

Last week, Variety magazine hosted their annual ‘Power of Women’ luncheon, an event which celebrates the charitable work done by women in the entertainment industry. 

The four women honoured this year included singer/songwriter Anitta, Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hartigay, showrunner Shonda Rhimes, and, controversially, comedian Amy Schumer. 

Schumer was selected as an honouree by Variety due to her advocacy for gun law reform in the US. 

While this is undoubtedly important work, it’s difficult to celebrate a woman who, only a few months ago, spread misleading, racist social media posts relating to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Following the outbreak of the war, Amy Schumer shared a number of contentious posts to her 13 million Instagram followers. One of these posts was a cartoon depicting protestors holding signs reading statements such as ‘Gazans rape Jewish girls’, and ‘stab Jews for Allah’. 

Not only does this present Palestinian civilians as violent criminals, it perpetuates the myth that what is happening is a religious battle between Muslims and Jewish people, rather than settler colonisation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people (who come from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds).

After actress Asia Jackson challenged Schumer’s post and the double standards in Hollywood of advocating for Palestine vs advocating for Israel, Schumer sent paragraphs to Jackson, calling her ‘uneducated’, ‘anti-semitic’, and suggesting that she is ignorant to the safety threats faced by Jewish people. 

The optics of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman lecturing a black person on what it means to be unsafe in America is jarring, to say the least.

This is not to detract from the fact that Jewish people are facing serious discrimination and threats to their lives - in the weeks after the outbreak of war in Gaza, antisemitic hate crimes were up by 337% in the US alone. 

While it is right to bring awareness to this atrocity, the issue is that her concern for human welfare does not seem to extend to the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed by the Israeli state, as well as Palestinians living in the global diaspora who have experienced hate crimes.

Schumer shared multiple posts that included baseless, harmful claims against Palestinians. After a hospital was bombed in Gaza, she posted an Instagram story claiming that an ‘Islamic Jihad missile’ was responsible for the bombing that killed dozens of people, despite having no evidence to support her statement. 

Later she reposted actress Sara Foster’s Instagram post, in which she claims to have a video of Hamas ‘ripping out a baby from an alive mother’s stomach, then killing both’ - unsurprisingly, there is no evidence that this happened. 

These war-mongering posts allow Israel to justify their barbaric attacks on Palestinians by claiming they are only seeking to destroy Hamas.

The comedian also shared a video of Martin Luther King Jr., in which he denounced antisemitism. King’s daughter, Bernice, responded to the video by writing that her father both opposed antisemitism and believed that militarism was evil. 

She stated: “I am certain he would call for Israel’s bombing of Palestinians to cease, for hostages to be released.”


In light of these irresponsible posts, it's almost unbelievable that Variety would choose to honour Amy Schumer as a role model and inspiration to women. In a profile for the magazine, Schumer responded to the pushback she received from her posts relating to Israel/Palestine.

She suggested that public debate unfairly favours the Palestinian side, stating that ‘the focus is so razor-sharp on Jewish people but not on Hamas’. This is simply untrue; mainstream news publications and broadcasters readily condemned Hamas after they took approximately 200 Israeli people hostage. 

It is only recently, with over 30,000 Palestinians killed, that western journalists have begun to interrogate Israeli politicians on their actions in Palestine. Just last week, Labour officials even claimed that they lost the West Midlands mayoral election because of Hamas.

The implication that Jewish people are more heavily criticised than those who advocate for Palestinian liberation is also false. Noah Schnapp, who was seen passing out stickers reading ‘Zionism is sexy’ and ‘Hamas is ISIS’, suffered few consequences in his professional life. 

Meanwhile, actress Melissa Barrera was fired from her role in Scream 7 because of her condemnation of Israeli attacks on Gazan civilians (in the same statement, she wrote that neither Palestinians nor Jewish people are to blame for the ongoing genocide).

This point is reiterated in the following paragraph of Schumer’s variety profile. The article reads that ‘none of this [her social media posts] has stopped Schumer from getting jobs’. It’s clear that the ‘focus on Jewish people’ that Schumer discusses has not been strong enough to have any real impact on her career.

Schumer does make a point of stating that she disagrees with the Israeli government’s actions and that what is happening in Gaza is ‘sickening’. But this comes too little too late. 

The article states that a plethora of people address Schumer daily to ‘thank’ her for what she has done for Israel and furthering the Israeli cause (which has become synonymous with the annihilation of the Palestinian people in the name of defeating Hamas). Her fleeting acknowledgement of the Palestinian plight is empty and hollow, given that she’s become a figurehead for the Zionist project.

Schumer also blames some of the backlash she’s faced on gender inequality in the entertainment industry. She states, ‘people get really mad at women... they save a special kind of vitriol for women’. 

Weaponizing sexism is a lazy way to bypass genuine criticism and is a worrying assault on the concept of accountability. Schumer’s decision to present herself as a victim of the patriarchy reflects her disregard for the harm caused by her posts and, more broadly, her disregard for the Palestinian cause.

For seven months, we have watched Israel commit the most heinous war crimes in Gaza and kill over 30,000 people. And while Amy Schumer briefly mentions in her Variety profile that she disagrees with Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza, her refusal to apologise and retract her misleading, war-mongering posts makes the statement pretty meaningless. 

To honour someone who has shown so little care for Palestinian lives as a ‘powerful woman’ is embarrassing on Variety’s part, and is a sad reflection of Hollywood’s current moral standards.

Edited by Emily Duff

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