He has never been afraid of getting into spats on his reality TV shows, but now Simon Cowell has found himself in the middle of a much more serious conflict.
The X Factor mogul has been bombarded with gruesome images of dead Palestinian children by protesters who accuse him of helping the Israeli invasion of Gaza.
It comes amid fears of growing anti-Semitism across Europe as violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza escalates.
Opponents of Israel’s two-week military action have seized on a £90,000 donation Cowell made to the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) at a fundraiser last year.
The organisation, founded by Holocaust survivors in 1981, says on its website that it provides Israeli soldiers with ‘love, support and care in an effort to ease the burden they carry on behalf of the Jewish community worldwide.’
At a fundraiser in Beverley Hills, hosted by billionaire TV magnate Haim Saban, Cowell, 54, publicly gave $150,000 [£90,000] to the cause.
Overall, the gala dinner, which was attended by more than 1,000 supporters including singer Lionel Ritchie, raised more than £12million for the FIDF.
But in the wake of this month’s conflict in Gaza, dozens of Palestinian supporters attacked Cowell on Twitter and posted graphic reminders of the death toll online in an effort to shame him for his generosity.
Alongside an image of four dead Palestinian children on stretchers, one poster – writing under the name Leema – told Cowell: ‘You have blood on ur hands’.
Another, using the name kiks, sent him a picture of a grieving father holding his dead baby and wrote: ‘u donated money to israel to do this. Now imagine this was ur child’.
A third, tmrottweiler, said: ‘Well at least Simon Cowell doesn’t have to go to Israel to see how the money he raised 4 the idf is being spent he just has 2 watch the news.’
Other messages suggested the music mogul was part of a ‘Zionist’ plot and accused him taking orders from his ‘masters in Tel Aviv’.
Israel has come under mounting pressure in recent days after a tank shell hit a hospital, killing five people and injuring 70.
Since July 8 – when it launched airstrikes in response to Palestinian rocket fire – at least 550 Palestinians and 27 Israelis have died.
The United Nations, which has called for an immediate ceasefire, said at least 1,370 homes have been destroyed in Gaza and more than 100,000 displaced. The UK has pledged more than £5million in emergency support.
Although Cowell was raised as a Roman Catholic, he has increasingly embraced the Jewish faith of his girlfriend Lauren Silverman, 37, who gave birth to their son Eric in February.
In 2005, he said he was ‘thrilled’ to discover that his father Eric was the son of a Jewish refugee from Poland.
Cowell’s spokesman declined to comment last night.
Jewish people are being attacked and abused on the streets of Germany as though the country were back in the Nazi era, political and religious leaders warned yesterday.
Escalating violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has prompted a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in Europe in the last few days.