June 21, 2024

A powerful agent to A-list celebrity clients like Tom Cruise and Madonna is under fire at her company, Creative Artists Agency, and in the larger Hollywood community over controversial Instagram posts regarding Israel.

On Wednesday evening, CAA‘s star-whisperer Maha Dakhil reposted a statement from an account labeled Free Palestine, which weighed in on Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 terror attack executed by Islamic extremist group Hamas. The post read, “You’re currently learning who supports genocide,” to which Dakhil added her own caption: “That’s the line for me.” She then posted a second photo captioned, “What’s more heartbreaking than witnessing genocide? Witnessing the denial that genocide is happening.” She later deleted both posts from her account.

Dakhil’s posts have been shared widely within the industry, and Variety has confirmed their authenticity.

“I made a mistake with a repost in my Instagram story, which used hurtful language. Like so many of us, I have been reeling with heartbreak. I pride myself on being on the side of humanity and peace,” Dakhil told Variety in a statement. “I’m so grateful to Jewish friends and colleagues who pointed out the implications and further educated me. I immediately took the repost down. I’m sorry for the pain I have caused.”

Some CAA employees and dozens of industry colleagues were offended and saddened by the posts, which they found to be antisemitic. Others were shocked that a prominent dealmaker would wade into such a painful and incendiary issue in a public way. Dakhil often uses her social platforms to advocate for causes including #TimesUp and diversity and equity initiatives.

Dakhil shared a third post on Wednesday evening addressing the previous two.

“Choice of words is important,” she wrote. “Dialogue is healing. As each excruciating day passes, I’m listening and learning more from my friends. Thank you. I’m holding all our families in my prayers…I am grieving for everyone who is suffering right now. I continue to mourn all innocent lives. My mission is peace.”

Others inside CAA and third parties who work with the agency have not spoken out about the posts in “fear of retaliation,” according to one senior content executive who spoke to Variety anonymously for that very reason. One fellow agent also wondered how Dakhil’s outspokenness might impact her relationships with clients who have voiced their support for Israel.

Others familiar with the agency said Dakhil removed the posts herself and no employee has come forth with an official complaint. The agency has sent numerous internal messages about the events in Israel, another person with knowledge of the company said, and held “safe space dialogues.”

One C-suite executive at a media company said the posts reflect “a conflicted culture at CAA, which is trying to navigate a conflicted world.”

The agency issued a statement of support of Israel two days after the Hamas attack, saying it “stands with the people of Israel, the Jewish community, and all innocent victims in the face of horrific acts of terrorism. For those with family, friends, or loved ones living in or connected to Israel and the region, our thoughts are with you. We wish for peace for all people.”

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