‘My colleagues don’t have spine to defend Jews’: Musicians, influencers discuss digital advocacy for Hamas hostages

The singer talked during the panel discussion on Monday about losing many friends in the music industry because of his avid support for Israel, especially following Oct. 7.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

David Draiman, frontman of the American heavy metal band Disturbed, and musician Montana Tucker were among the panelists at an event in Israel on Monday that focused on media and digital advocacy for the hostages abducted from southern Israel on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum hosted in Sderot a conference titled “Impacting Public Opinion Under Fire,” and it featured a panel discussion about “impacting public opinion on the hostages through social media.”

The panelists included stand-up comedian Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, beauty influencer Ashley Waxman-Bakshi, and Daniel Braun, who has over 4 million followers on TikTok.

“It’s very hard to be one of the only ones; one of the only prominent Jews supporting our people during this incredibly difficult time,” said Draiman.

The “Sound of Silence” singer is currently in Israel touring the country and visited some of the kibbutz areas impacted by the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks.

The singer talked during the panel discussion on Monday about losing many friends in the music industry because of his avid support for Israel, especially following Oct. 7.

Draiman shared that he used to have dinner on a regular basis in Los Angles with “two very dear friends of mine” — Serj Tankian, lead singer of System Of A Down, and American guitarist and singer-songwriter Tom Morello from the band Rage Against the Machine.

Tankian has accused Israel of committing “war crimes” and “genocide” during the Israel-Hamas war, and Morello was among the anti-Israel activists who pressured the Download music festival to remove Barclays Bank as a sponsor of the event because of its association with Israel.

“I used to pride myself on being a man who always tried to cross the divide with everyone everywhere all the time … I can’t even speak to these people anymore,” Draiman said. “There’s no point trying to convince someone who’s been so seduced by the narrative of the other side.”

“Most of my colleagues simply don’t have the spine and the wherewithal to stand fast and to stand true in defense of the Jewish people,” he added. “They simply don’t.”

Draiman admitted that he gets “250, 500 [and] sometimes 1,000” death threats a week. He also had to hire additional private security but is not bothered by what he is facing for showing solidarity with Israel.

“It’s all worth it and I’d do it 1,000 times over,” he explained. “What we’re fighting against is very unique and it’s hard to combat against a society that is uncivilized; that threatens people with death, with the death of their children, with harming their families. It’s very hard for it to go through one ear and out the other.

But visiting Sdoret, the kibbutzim and being an addict of everything informational that has happened since Oct. 7 — it’s only convinced me to continue to push even harder. We’ll never give up. We will keep going and we will not be intimated by those who seek to intimidate us. We are not Jews with trembling knees.”

Tucker wore a gown to the 2024 Grammy Awards in February that featured an oversized yellow ribbon with the message, “Bring Them Home,” calling for the release of the remaining hostages.

She also wore a Star of David necklace. During Monday’s panel discussion, Tucker was asked by the panel’s moderator Ido Daniel about the backlash she received for wearing the gown, from members of the entertainment industry and others outside of the business.

Recalling her experience at the Grammys, she said, “when I walked off the red carpet, someone from the Recording Academy asked if I could leave because they were disappointed in my dress.

They said it was too political and they don’t do politics at the Grammys … They proceeded to ask me if I could remove the ribbon. I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ And then I went back out there [on the red carpet] and two minutes later [Recording Academy CEO] Harvey Mason Jr. actually came up to me and said, ‘Thank you for wearing that dress. Let’s take your photo.’”

“But the stares I received all night were insane,” she added. “I made it to Us Weekly’s worst dressed at the Grammys list. But the love I received from the Jewish community was beyond incredible and some of the families of the hostages that I keep in contact with said they felt seen [and] heard. That’s why I will continue no matter what to use my platform, whether it’s at an award show or online, to call for the release of the hostages. I will always continue to do so until they are all home.”

Waxman-Bakshi’s cousin Agam Berger, 19, is still held in Hamas captivity in Gaza after being abducted during the Oct. 7 attack on the Nahal Oz military base.

Waxman-Bakshi, a Canadian-born social media influencer who has a masters degree in counterterrorism and previously worked for Israel’s Ministry of Defense, has met with world leaders — including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, members of the US Congress and other politicians — to talk about the hostages.

She even spoke at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday, which was the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The UN Human Rights Council discussed a new report submitted by the Council’s Commission of Inquiry that concluded Hamas terrorists perpetrated sexual violence on Oct. 7, “primarily against Israeli women.”

Waxman-Bakshi talked during Monday’s panel discussion about how content creating ties in to her speaking out about the hostages. She said getting politicians to follow her on social media, continuing to engage with them, and “keeping that conversation going” furthers her advocacy regarding the hostages.

“Once my face continues to show up on their screen and in their parliaments, they stop and listen,” she said. “So I’m really in this unique position where I’m doing both. Both things need to be happening simultaneously — not only diplomatic work but also strategic work online.”

The full video of the panel discussion can be seen on the Facebook page of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.