More Culture:

January 17, 2024

'Stranger Things' star Noah Schnapp answers backlash against 'misconstrued' views on Israel-Hamas war

The University of Pennsylvania sophomore was seen last fall in a video that showed him with friends who were holding 'Zionism Is Sexy' stickers

Social Media Celebrities
Noah Schnapp Israel Briana Sanchez/USA TODAY NETWORK

Some 'Stranger Things' fans have called for a boycott of the Netflix series in response to star Noah Schnapp's public remarks about the Israel-Hamas war. Schnapp addressed the backlash this week with a video statement on TikTok.

Noah Schnapp, one of the stars of the hit Netflix series "Stranger Things," went on TikTok Tuesday to share a statement about the criticism he's received for his apparent beliefs about the Israel-Hamas war.

Schnapp, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, came under fire from fans in October when he posted a since-deleted video expressing his fears as an American Jew following the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel. Then in November, as Israel's bombardment of Gaza escalated, another video surfaced of Schnapp with a group of friends smiling and showing off stickers that read "Zionism Is Sexy" and "Hamas Is ISIS," referring to the jihadist group recognized by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. (The U.S. also recognizes Hamas as a terrorist organization.)

In his statement on TikTok, Schnapp said his views about the Israel-Hamas conflict have been misrepresented.

"I feel like my thoughts and beliefs have been so far misconstrued from anything even close to what I believe," Schnapp said. The actor is Jewish and grew up in New York City.

Zionism is the ideological view and nationalist movement that states Jewish people deserve to have a homeland in the biblical land of Israel. Although Zionism historically was rooted in religious thought and grew as a reaction to the global persecution of Jews, its modern political forms have become integral to Israeli government policy. Opponents contend Israel's Zionist regime has systematically disenfranchised and discriminated against Palestinians by appropriating land and curtailing the rights of Israel's non-Jewish population.

Some "Stranger Things" fans have called for a boycott of the show's fifth and final season, now in production after it was delayed by the since-resolved writers' strike. Others urged Netflix to fire Schnapp from "Stranger Things," in which he plays a central role as Will Byers, a conflicted teen coming to grips with his sexuality as dark forces threaten Hawkins, Indiana

In his statement, the actor went on to say he's made an effort to gain more perspective on the tensions that have arisen from the ongoing war. 



♬ original sound - Noah Schnapp

"I only want peace and safety and security for all innocent people affected by this conflict," Schnapp said to his more than 32 million TikTok followers. "I’ve had many open discussions with friends of Palestinian backgrounds. Those are very important conversations to be had and I’ve learned a lot. We all hope for the same things ... Anyone with any ounce of humanity would hope for an end to the hostilities on both sides."

Schnapp's video comes amid months of turmoil on Penn's campus, where university leaders have faced pressure over complaints of antisemitism and an unsafe environment for Jewish students. In December, former Penn President Liz Magill resigned after she testified before Congress about campus antisemitism and hesitated to outright condemn calls for genocide against Jews, citing university policies on free speech. Magill has been replaced in the interim by medical school dean Dr. J. Larry Jameson, who said hateful actions on campus "must be rooted out and eliminated."

Former university board chair Scott Bok also resigned in response to backlash from donors who had threatened to withhold financial support for the university unless it made top-level changes. Longtime Penn trustee Ramanan Raghavendran has since stepped into Bok's former role.

Schnapp's critics claim the actor made light of the conflict with the stickers and hasn't drawn the same rebuke as celebrities who have been vocal in their support of Palestinians, including model Bella Hadid. In response to his new video on TikTok, many on social media accused Schnapp of making his statement as a public relations move on behalf of Netflix. Others wished Schnapp would have used his platform to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

"We are all human and we are all the same, and we should all love each other for that and support each other and stand together … and stand together for humanity and peace," Schnapp said in the video.

The toll of the war in Gaza has brought growing international pressure on Israel to pause its military campaign. The conflict has claimed more than 24,000 lives in the Hamas-led territory, according to Palestinian authorities. Hostilities also have spread in the region, with Israel targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon and the U.S. retaliating in Yemen for Houthi strikes on ships in the Red Sea.

On Wednesday, Israel and Hamas reached a deal to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. Negotiations are ongoing in Qatar for the release of more than 100 Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.