ARMY4Palestine: How BTS fans are supporting Gaza amid Israeli genocide

K-pop band’s fandom is issuing boycott calls, organising fundraisers

Entertainment Desk June 20, 2024

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has reached heartbreaking proportions, with at least 37,372 people killed and 85,452 injured since October 7, Al Jazeera reported. In the wake of these staggering numbers, BTS's fandom, known as ARMY, is doing its part in mitigating the devastating impact of Israel’s genocide.

A recent video explainer by AJ+ records the extensive efforts by the K-pop band’s fans to support Palestinian families in Gaza. This movement was sparked by footage showing Palestinian journalist Ahmad Ibraheem uncovering photos of BTS band members amid the rubble of demolished houses, suggesting that a Palestinian fan of the band may have perished in the violence. 

In a powerful display of solidarity, ARMY has launched a formal call to boycott pro-Israel figures working in the entertainment industry. The BTS ARMY, renowned for their dedication and influence, were deeply moved by the scenes of destruction and loss and have directed their efforts towards the band’s label, Hybe Corporation.

Demands for significant changes within the company are making rounds on the internet. BTS ARMY has called for Hybe to sever ties with Scooter Braun, a high-profile executive known for his pro-Israel stance. They are urging Hybe and its shareholders to "divest from Zionists" and advocating for fans to stop purchasing Hybe records or merchandise. Instead, they suggest streaming BTS music through unofficial channels to prevent the company from profiting.

Mounting pressure

Hybe Corporation, initially established as Big Hit Entertainment in 2005 by Bang Si-hyuk, is a South Korean multinational entertainment conglomerate. The company operates as a record label, talent agency, music production company, event management and concert production entity, and music publishing house.

In a letter addressed to Hybe, the BTS ARMY articulated their stance, "BTS ARMY, as one of the most influential fandoms in the world, cannot bear to see the systemic oppression of the Palestinian people. We are a group of people around the world who have learned from BTS and other BTS fans about the importance of social justice in times of crisis."

In addition to the boycott, ARMY has organised fundraising efforts to support Gaza. The initiative ARMY4Palestine has already raised about $100,000 for the cause, with local fanbase chapters also contributing through various fundraising activities.  Currently, the BTS band members are fulfilling their mandatory military service in South Korea and have remained silent on the issue. Their silence, however, has not deterred their fans from taking a stand. 

The ARMY's actions have inspired other K-pop fandoms to join the movement. Fans of the group Seventeen, known as Carat, have also engaged in boycotts and awareness campaigns about the occupation of Palestine. 

The impact of these boycotts and fundraising efforts extends beyond the K-pop community. Social media users worldwide are joining the call to boycott celebrities who support Israel or remain silent about its actions in Gaza. 

Operation Blockout 2024

A simultaneous pro-Palestine movement gaining traction is the Operation Blockout 2024. With its display of glitz and glamour amid the backdrop of a bombing campaign in Rafah, the Met Gala, labelled “the literal Hunger Games” by disillusioned social media users, proved to be the catalyst that sparked the mass digital boycott campaign.

The movement, propelled by social media users, targets celebrities who have not used their voices to condemn the ongoing genocide in Palestine that has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians. By blocking the accounts of celebrities and influencers – and therefore asking algorithms not to display any of their social media content – users have essentially boycotted a number of famous faces.

"It's time to block all the celebrities, influencers and wealthy socialites who are not using their resources to help those in dire need,” said one TikTok user following the Met Gala in a desperate bid to get justice for Palestinians. “We gave them their platforms. It's time to take it back, take our views away, our likes, our comments, our money, by blocking them on all social media and digital platforms. We sentence you to the digitine.”

Blockout 2024, or the ‘digital guillotine’, as it was initially introduced, has gained traction since it began on TikTok this month. Lists of celebrities to be blocked are being circulated globally amongst social media users on a variety of platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook.

Alia Bhatt joined heavyweights such as Taylor Swift, Priyanka Chopra, Beyoncé, Virat Kohli, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Zendaya, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Zac Efron, Nick Jonas, Kevin Jonas, and Justin Timberlake, amongst others.

Whilst there is a large number of celebrities being publicly condemned for their silence, there is also a small minority who have been vocal about their stance, risking their careers in the process. Hollywood actors such as Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, John Cusack, and Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan are among those who have actively spoken out against the military assault being carried out by Israel. To display their solidarity with Palestine, a number of celebrities donned an Artists4ceasefire pin at prominent events, such as the Academy Awards.

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