Laila Shadid for Arab America
“I am proud to be Palestinian,” supermodel Bella Khair Hadid posted on her Instagram story after the social media platform flagged a photo of her father’s old passport—his birthplace, Palestine.
Bella Hadid celebrates her father’s Palestinian heritage despite Instagram’s censorship – source: instagram.com/bellahadid
On July 2, 23-year-old Bella Hadid posted the photo above with the words, “My baba and his birthplace of Palestine.” Five days later, Instagram flagged the post, with the explanation: “Your Story Goes Against Our Community Guidelines.”
“We don’t allow certain things,” Instagram said in their message, “including Graphic violence. Hate speech, harassment, and bullying. Nudity and sexual activity.”
Hadid posted and responded to this message on her story for 31.6 million followers.
“Are we not allowed to be Palestinian on Instagram?” she asked. “This, to me, is bullying.”
“You can’t erase history by silencing people,” Hadid continued. “It doesn’t work like that.”
Bella Hadid’s response to Instagram’s message – source: instagram.com/bellahadid
Hadid later reposted the deleted photo of her father’s passport (as seen above), and asked the social media site, “Do you want him to change his birthplace for you?”
According to Page Six, a spokesperson from Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, apologized to Hadid.
“To protect the privacy of our community, we don’t allow people to post personal information, such as passport numbers, on Instagram,” Facebook said. “In this case, the passport number was blurred out, so this content shouldn’t have been removed. We’ve restored the content and apologized to Bella for the mistake.”
Hadid has received support from many fans, followers, and the fellow Arab community.
Moreover, members of the Palestinian community shared their heritage through their own Instagram stories, some of which Hadid reposted.
“Your fellow proud Palestinian,” Brooklyn artist Nadia Tayeh added to her story with a photo of her riding a donkey during her first visit to Palestine at two-years-old.
The Family’s Palestinian Roots
Sibling models Bella, Gigi, and Anwar Hadid are Palestinian-Dutch.
Their father, 71-year-old real estate developer, Mohamed Anwar Hadid, was born in Palestine during the British Mandate. However, Jewish immigrants evicted his family from their home in 1948 during the Nakba.
The Hadid family fled from their home when Mohamed was 18-months-old. He grew up as a refugee in Syria, Lebanon, and Tunisia, before settling in the United States at 14-years-old.
At the Harvard Arab Conference in 2019—the largest Arab conference in North America—Mohamed accepted an award with his five children by his side.
“My parents always embedded in us that we are Palestinians, we’ll always be Palestinians, so my home has always been that virtual home, where my mum, my dad, my kids were learning to roll grape leaves with their grandma,” Mohamed said in his acceptance speech. “I’ll always be a simple man from Palestine.”
After the event, Mohamed posted a photo of his children with the caption: “I want my kids to carry the torch for the future—not to burn anyone or anything, but to shed the light on the injustice toward the Palestinian people.”
Hadid Family Activism
Mohamed is not the only Hadid to advocate for Palestinian lives—Gigi, Bella, and Anwar Hadid have all spoken out against injustices committed against the Palestinian community.
In 2017, Bella condemned Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and his plans to build a new U.S. embassy in the occupied Palestinian city.
Bella turned her words into actions by joining a “Free Palestine” protest in London after sharing this Instagram post.
When the U.S. embassy opened in 2018, the Israeli military violently quelled Gazan protests. In response, Gigi shared a Tweet with the hashtag #freegaza.
Gigi Hadid supports protesters in Gaza – source: stepfeed.com
In April of 2019, Anwar visited Palestine and posted photos of his homeland.
“My brothers and I touched the motherland today,” he wrote on Instagram. “Much culture and beauty and PEOPLE that need to be seen and heard.”
The Hadid family is proud to be Palestinian.