Amal Clooney silences TikTok critics after revealing secret work with ICC to prosecute Gaza war crimes

The international human rights lawyer, and wife of actor George Clooney, issued a statement on Monday saying that she did not provide ‘running commentary’ on her work

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Tuesday 21 May 2024 03:44 BST
ICC seek arrest warrant against Israel PM Netanyahu over alleged Gaza war crimes

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Angry TikTok critics who accused Amal Clooney of being “too busy” to speak out publicly about the war in Gaza were proved ironically somewhat correct on Monday, after it was revealed that she had been instead secretly working with the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant against the Israeli prime minister for possible war crimes.

For months, pro-Palestine social media users have been furious that Ms Clooney, an international human rights lawyer and wife of actor George, had not made public statements on the crisis in Gaza, declaring that she was a “disappointment.” Since the Met Gala, a mass unfollowing and blocking of celebrities who had not spoken out about the atrocities has been underway, dubbed #Blockout2024, with millions of people unfollowing influencers such as Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift.

Then on Monday, Ms Clooney published an expert report supporting ICC calls for arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as several Hamas leaders, over alleged war crimes. She also issued a statement saying that she did not provide “running commentary” on her work, which obviously had to remain secret due to the delicate legal nature of her work — but that hadn’t stopped social media from its own.

On TikTok, one woman accused her in January of “turning her back on the Palestinian cause” and caring more about her fashion industry endeavors and “celebrity status” than justice in the Middle East.

“Amal Clooney is nowhere to be found… this broad actually said her caseload was full,” said one user, in a video posted in December. “She’s as bad an actor as her husband... Your name means ‘hope’ — guessing you hoped we’d forget about you huh?” The video has since been viewed over 75,000 times.

Amal Clooney, international human rights lawyer and wife of Hollywood star George Clooney, had been criticised online for her perceived lack of comment on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East
Amal Clooney, international human rights lawyer and wife of Hollywood star George Clooney, had been criticised online for her perceived lack of comment on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East (Alberto Pezzali/Invision/AP)

“She’s another one that bites the dust badly,” said another user, in a video in February. “If a Lebanese… who has made it her life’s work to defend people against human rights abuses, can’t bring herself to say anything publicly… it really screams the question ‘is her Hollywood status really more important to her than saying something?’”

Ms Clooney is a British barrister born to Lebanese parents, and her maternal grandmother had Palestinian roots. In an online statement published Monday, Ms Clooney explained how she’d gotten involved in looking into possible war crimes in Gaza: “More than four months ago, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asked me to assist him with evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza.

“I agreed and joined a panel of international legal experts to undertake this task. Together we have engaged in an extensive process of evidence review and legal analysis including at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”

She added: “My approach is not to provide a running commentary of my work but to let the work speak for itself. I hope that witnesses will cooperate with the ongoing investigation. And I hope that justice will prevail in a region that has already suffered too much.”

Following the statements, some in the TikTok community pointed out that the “dragging” of Ms Clooney online had perhaps been “a little bit too much”.

In a video titled “Maybe a lot of you need to apologize to Amal Clooney now?” one user highlighted that Ms Clooney had been doing “incredibly important work” behind the scenes for the ICC, which meant she could not comment publicly.

“I know it’s really easy to think that speaking out is everything but when it comes to international law… speaking out is for people who can… and I think we have to just be a little bit mindful that it doesn’t always work like that for everyone,” the user said.

Earlier this month social media users called out celebrities for perceived inaction over the war in Gaza, staging a “blockout” to pressure the stars to take a stand. Ms Clooney was not specifically targeted in the blockout, but social media users have condemned online attacks on Ms Clooney on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“A timely reminder that performative activity on social media is not ‘action’,” wrote one user. “Amal Clooney has been dragged continuously for the past few months for supposedly being silent on Gaza. She was diligently doing her actual job and making a tangible difference in the real world.”

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