Relatives criticise Michelle Obama for silence over female hostages on Women’s Day

Jewish women blame ‘cancel culture’ for failure of stars to repeat the campaign to ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ from Boko Haram


Relatives of Israeli hostages have blamed “cancel culture” for the failure of female megastars who spoke up for the hostages of Boko Haram in 2014 to lend the same support to the women being held by Hamas.  

Michelle Obama, Salma Hayek, Malala Yousafzai, The Rock, Emma Watson, Ellen DeGeneres and Alicia Keys all shared photos of themselves holding up the slogan “Bring Back Our Girls”  after 276 schoolgirls were taken by the African jihadi group ten years ago.

Gili Roman, whose sister-in-law, Carmel Gat, 39, is among the women hostages still being held captive by Hamas, told the Mail, “I am 100 per cent sure that Michelle Obama thinks it is wrong to take hostages. So, the only question is why doesn’t she talk about it?”

The Israeli went on, “What I've learned from my visits in the US is the level of cancel culture. It’s basically a bullying tactic to keep people quiet, and it works.”

Jewish mother-of-three, Lori Hudaly, 42, said: “I feel very angry and horrified how many people have stayed silent about it.”

A photo of then First Lady Michelle Obama with the “Bring Back Our Girls” sign helped the campaign go viral.

Now, families of hostages have blamed “cancel culture” for the silence of the celebrities.

Today, on International Women’s Day, a “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign has been launched on social media by grassroots activists to call for the return of the 19 women –as well as the 113 men – who are still being held by Hamas.

In a nod to the 2014 campaign, social media users are today sharing photos of themselves holding A4 paper bearing the slogan. Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt and Countdown presenter Rachel Riley have both posted photos of themselves holding the message.

Hudaly shared a photo holding up the sign and told the JC: “I’ve been trying to do as much as I can to bring them home. If we stop speaking about them, they’ll just get forgotten.”

Hudaly said she “cannot imagine what the mothers of the hostages are going through”.“I feel like they’re all my family,” she added.

While Hudaly was sympathetic about the risk posed to famous figures who do speak out, she said: “I think a lot of them are getting death theats when they do open their mouths about the Jewish victims. 

“It should not be that you can speak up about African children but not for Jews."

Hudaly wants celebrities to “demand that they [Hamas] release the hostages and campaign like they did for girls taken by Boko Haram”.

Itai Galmudy, a 41-year-old father-of-two, who also lives in London, posted his pictures and said: “Time is running out. We are supposedly celebrating International Women's Day today, but we have 19 women [held hostage] and we don’t know anything about their condition or their health.

“The hashtag ‘Me Too Unless You’re a Jew’ says it all,” Galmudy added.

The slogan was a response the widespread refusal by women’s groups to accept the rape and mutilation committed against Jewish women on October 7. It took UN Women eight weeks to “unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks”.

Galmudy said: “Violence against women doesn’t bother the international community when it is Jewish women. We believe everybody else – we didn't make excuses for any other women, but we do for Jewish women.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive