Controversial former footy star Sonny Bill Williams has doubled down on his anti-Jewish comments by questioning if hostages were treated as badly by Hamas as Israel claimed.
Taking to Instagram on Friday, the footballer turned boxer shared a meme showing freed Israeli hostage Mia Schem, 21, describing her treatment after she was kidnapped by terrorists at the Nova festival massacre on October 7 as ‘very good’.
Williams contrasted this with a clip of Palestinian activist Ahed Tamami, 22, who was released from an Israeli prison on November 6 – after she was arrested on suspicion of inciting violence and calling for terrorist activity – claiming she and 30 other female prisoners were denied water and food.
Williams then included a comment from British-Syrian journalist Richard Medhurst questioning why hostages freed by Hamas have not appeared more publicly in Israel.
‘If Hamas treated Israeli hostages badly, wouldn’t the first thing on Israel’s mind be to get them in front of cameras and have them say how awful it was?’ Medhurst said.
‘Instead Israel refuses to allow any released hostages to talk to the media. Afraid what they’ll say doesn’t fit Israel’s narrative?’
Sonny Bill Williams has doubled down on his anti-Israel and pro-Palestine comments
The former footy star shared a meme showing Israeli woman and freed hostage Mia Schem (bottom) talking about her ‘good’ treatment by Hamas and Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi (top) complaining of her treatment in an Israeli prison
Williams also shared this comment by journalist Richard Medhurst
While Ms Schem did appear to praise her treatment in the clip, it was filmed before she was released by Hamas and still being held by her captors.
‘People very good, very kind to me … Food good and the kindness and everything good,’ Ms Schem said.
Her comments are in stark contrast to the stories of other hostages who were said to have lost between 8 and 15kg in captivity – in under two months.
Women and children returning say they were beaten and threatened by their captors, as reported by Al Jazeera. Others say shortages led to poor diets and improper medical care.
Earlier this week, footage shared by Hamas and circulated by Reuters showed hostages apparently being badgered to ‘keep waving’ by armed gunmen as they were led towards Red Cross trucks to be ferried back across the border into Israel.
Ms Schem herself had been shot in the arm during her kidnapping, with her family later confirming she had been operated on by a vet while being held in Gaza.
Mia Schem was seen speaking to the camera about her experience in Hamas captivity
Schem, 21, became one of the most high-profile hostages after Hamas released a video in the early days of the war showing her recovering from surgery
Williams, who converted to Islam in 2009, just weeks ago saw backlash from radio host Ray Hadley after he ‘liked’ a comment on social media calling Hamas terrorists ‘freedom fighters’.
He had shared a post from American law professor, author and controversial columnist Khaled Beydoun that said: ‘So, Ukrainian civilians defending their families are ‘freedom fighters’… But Palestinians in Gaza doing the EXACT same thing are ‘terrorists’?’
Williams reposted the comment with the 100 emoji to emphasise his approval, and the palms-up emoji to represent prayer.
Hadley called the comments a ‘disgrace’.
Many social media users pointed out they were completely different scenarios.
‘They’re not doing even remotely the same thing though,’ one said.
‘Over 250 bodies at the Music Festival for Peace. And you support that? Ukrainians aren’t attacking civilians. Palestinians are,’ another added.
Also in November, Williams earned the ire of the Jewish community who claimed he was ‘inciting hatred’ after sharing video of the bombing of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.
Williams described supporters of the state of Israel as ‘Zionist cowards’ sparking backlash for ‘inciting hatred’
‘Wallahi (I swear to God) where is our Ummah (Muslim community)?’ he wrote.
‘Where are the so called men entrusted to stand up and fight for our voiceless – if this footage is too gruesome for you REMEMBER these are the same people that certain parts of the media DEHUMANISE so you think this genocide is warranted.’
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin says the former footy star is using his platform to incite hatred against fellow Australians and has offered to meet Williams ‘anywhere and anytime’ to discuss the matter.
‘His comments are reckless, dangerous and clearly uninformed,’ Mr Ryvchin told Newscorp.
‘But to his many fans and followers, they will sound compelling and will serve to incitement hatred and further destabilise our fragile social cohesion.
‘I’m sure Sonny Bill doesn’t want to do this and I would be willing to meet with him to discuss our perspectives and build bridges rather than making enemies.’