Pro-Israel influencer skewered for pushing skincare brand in video on Hamas hostages

Pro-Israel influencer Montana Tucker is taking heat online after promoting a skincare product in a video purportedly mean to raise awareness for Israeli hostages.

The video, posted to Instagram last week, shows Tucker interviewing Raz Ben Ami, who was taken hostage on Oct. 7 alongside her husband, Ohad, when Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel, killing 1,200 people.

Ben Ami, who was held hostage in Gaza for 54 days, is seen sitting with her three daughters as they discuss the events of Oct. 7 and their efforts to ensure the safe return of Ohad, who remains in captivity. “We miss him very much,” Ben Ami, who is wearing a shirt calling for Ohad’s release, says in the video. “We’re working very hard to get him back. We hope he’s still OK.”

The video then pans to Mickael Bensadoun, CEO of the Israeli skincare brand Fré, who is sitting next to Tucker. “We are praying for the release of all hostages,” Bensadoun says. “This is the least we can do.”

Bensadoun goes on to explain that while Raz was in captivity, her daughter 27-year-old Yulie, had reached out to the company to ask if her mother could have some Fré products when she was released. “Our head of customer support showed me this message. I think I wanted to give all Fré to you,” Bensadoun says, to which Tucker responds: “There are a million skincare brands, but I think what makes a brand so special is when there is a personal story.”

Towards the end of the video, Tucker asks if she can rub some cream from the brand on Ben Ami’s face, reassuring her that her hands are clean. Ben Ami responds, with a laugh, “I’ve been in Gaza.” The video concludes with the group shouting, in unison, “We love Fré!”

Tucker, who has more than 3 million followers on Instagram, published the video on Thursday, with the caption: “Raz and Ohad have 3 beautiful daughters who did/do everything they can to bring back their dad/ remaining hostages, and take care of their mom.”

Montana Tucker (right) is seen sitting with Raz Ben Ami (left) and her daughter (Montana Tucker / Instagram)
Montana Tucker (right) is seen sitting with Raz Ben Ami (left) and her daughter (Montana Tucker / Instagram)

“@freskincare is not only an incredible, clean, and Israeli skincare brand, but it is Raz’s favorite,” she added.

Since then, she has received intense backlash for the video, with human rights lawyer and Israel advocate Arsen Ostrovsky branding it “vile and unconscionable.”

“How dare you @montanatucker come here to Israel to profit of [sic] the grief and massacre of our people. Have you no shame?” he wrote on X.

Meanwhile, Yaakov Katz, the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, accused Tucker of “capitalizing on the backs of people who have been to hell and back.”

“After you thought you’ve seen it all, watch this video and see how some people and the brands they’re pushing apparently have no problem capitalizing on the backs of people who have been to hell and back,” he wrote on X.

Another social media user described the video as “self centered” and “truly unbelievable.”

“I agree this display of blatant and purely commercial promotion does not sit too well with all your efforts to sound touched not for fame or profit,” another person wrote. “You have unfortunately blemished your image with an embarrassing disguised advertisement.”

But others praised Tucker for the video, which was one of many she has created to raise awareness of the hostages still in Gaza.

“She has done so much for our cause in social media since the war started, and because she did something for someone in partnership with a brand, you’re jumping down her throat,” one user wrote in response to Ostrovsky’s post. “Pick a fight with the correct people, this isn’t one of them!”

Montana Tucker (center) with Raz Ben Ami, her daughters, and Fré CEO Mickael Bensadoun (Montana Tucker / Instagram)
Montana Tucker (center) with Raz Ben Ami, her daughters, and Fré CEO Mickael Bensadoun (Montana Tucker / Instagram)

“@montanatucker Do you even know how much this means to every Jew in the world?,” another person said on Instagram. “The fact that you’re getting their stories out there for ALL to hear and see! Thank you so much for EVERYTHING you’re doing for your community!”

A representative for Tucker told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the influencer was introduced to Ben Ami at a recent rally for the hostages’ release before they met up in the temporary housing where her family has been living following the destruction of their home on Oct. 7.

“She wanted her story told, her husband’s story, told by Montana,” the representative said. “She always goes to their houses.”

The representative added that the idea for the video came from Fré and that Tucker was not paid to go to the house.

“It was totally a mitzvah thing,” she said. “She will always be there for the hostages until everyone’s home.”

The Independent has contacted representatives of Montana Tucker for further comment.

Tucker shared the video as Israel Defense Forces soldiers recovered the bodies of three hostages from the city of Rafah, where Israel launched airstrikes that caused a large blaze at a camp for displaced people, killing at least 45 people, while hundreds more were treated for severe burns, fractures and shrapnel wounds.

Millions of people had fled to the region amid Benjamin Netanyahu’s war on Gaza which he has vowed to continue despite calls from the international community for a ceasefire.

As of this week, some 125 hostages remain unaccounted for in Gaza, with Netanyahu under increasing pressure to negotiate their release.

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Netanyahu’s war on Gaza.