A pro-Israel activist organization is circulating a list of at least 190 names of high-profile Hollywood industry figures — studio heads, directors, producers, actors and managers — who have signed a statement criticizing the actions of Hamas.
Actors Kelsey Grammer, Sarah Silverman, Minnie Driver, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Seth Rogen, Josh Charles and Tony Goldwyn; showrunners Aaron Sorkin, Diane English, Mayim Bialik, Doug Ellin and Greg Berlanti; directors Ivan Reitman and William Friedkin; producers Avi Arad, Scooter Braun, Jerry Weintraub, Avi Lerner; execs Ryan Kavaunagh, Sherry Lansing and Amy Pascal and mogul Haim Saban are just a few of the names that appear on the statement.
“While we stand firm in our commitment to peace and justice, we must also stand firm against ideologies of hatred and genocide which are reflected in Hamas’ charter, Article 7 of which reads, ‘There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!’ The son of a Hamas founder has also commented about the true nature of Hamas,” the statement, headlined “Commitment to Justice and Peace,” reads.
“Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields,” it added. The statement will appear as an ad in The Hollywood Reporter and other publications next week.
The statement was circulated on Saturday by Lana Melman, director of the Creative Community for Peace organization. Melman collected and confirmed signatures over the past two weeks, she told THR.
The Creative Community for Peace organization was founded November 2011. According to Melman’s bio as a contributor at the online newspaper Times of Israel, the organization aims to bring together “prominent members of the entertainment industry to counter the cultural boycott against Israel and promote an accurate image of the Jewish state.”
The statement concludes, “We join together in support of the democratic values we all cherish and in the hope that the healing and transformative power of the arts can be used to build bridges of peace.”
The letter follows the widely-circulated op-ed statements of Kavanaugh and Jon Voight, who wrote strongly worded Pro-Israel statements. Other celebrities, notably Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, have lent their name to pro-Palestinian statements during the most recent conflict in Gaza.
A full list of names who signed the “Commitment to Justice and Peace” statement is here.
by Tina Daunt, Hollywood Reporter
Billionaire mogul and master fundraiser Haim Saban brought the A-lists of Hollywood and tech together Thursday at the Beverly Hilton to raise $34 million for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Even by the standards of the always well-supported annual FIDF events, this year’s dinner raised a remarkable amount for a single fundraising event, with major support from Hollywood moguls and studios execs. Interest has run higher than in past years because of Israel’s recent struggle with Hamas terrorism in Gaza.
A tearful Saban told the crowd of more than 1,200 attendees that he discouraged anonymous donations this year because it was important for supporters to “stand with Israel publicly, vocally and very loudly.”
Notable donations made at the event included $10 million from Larry Ellison, co-founder and chairman of Oracle; $5 million from top Republican fundraisers Sheldon and Miriam Adelson (who received a standing ovation from the liberal Westside crowd); $5.2 million from brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano of Guess Jeans; $3.6 million from Saban and wife Cheryl; $2 million from Steve Tisch, chairman and executive vp of the New York Giants; $1 million from Leo David, founder of the Western Region of the FIDF; and $1.6 million from The Helmsley Charitable Trust. In addition, first-time attendees and donors Michael and Susan Dell gave $1.8 million to fundIMPACT! educational scholarship programs.
Other co-chairs and supporters included Marvel Studios founder and former CEO Avi Arad, Electus founder Ben Silverman, Alan Horn and wife Cindy, Barry Meyer, Israeli billionaire Vivi Nevo, Barbra Streisand, developer and Los Angeles Police Commission president Steve Soboroff, Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz, David Foster, Pamela Anderson, Chris Tucker, Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes.
“This event is always one of the most inspiring and emotional evenings of the year,” said Streisand. “The soldiers of the IDF deserve our utmost respect and gratitude for all that they sacrifice to protect Israel, the only democratic state in the region.”
The Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces are, in fact, a unique organization with chapters across the United States. Under Saban’s longtime patronage, the western region chapter’s annual fundraiser for the group has become a multimillion-dollar affair. The funds go to provide educational, cultural and recreational opportunities for serving IDF personnel, as well as to support the families of fallen soldiers and to injured veterans. The group also helps IDF members who are alone in Israel to maintain contact with their families in other countries.
“In my mind, there is no greater honor than supporting some of the bravest people in the world, and I thank FIDF for providing us with this opportunity year-after-year to celebrate and support these soldiers,” said the Oracle founder Ellison. “These men and women come together with indefatigable purpose, to defend Israel and strive to co-exist in peace.”
The Sabans helped fly in a number of young Israeli soldiers who had received honors for serving in the recent war in Gaza for the event. They also arranged for tearful reunions between “lone soldiers” and their parents.
As one of the program’s highlights, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Greg Grutter, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, talked about how his life was changed when he went to Israel where he met with IDF veteran Zvika Comay as part of the FIDF’s Heroes to Heroes program, which brings together Israeli and American military heroes. Sharing similar combat experiences, the two became close friends. Comay, who made a surprise visit to the U.S. for the gala, came out onto the stage where he and Grutter embraced.
With David Foster at the helm, the evening also featured a number of musical performances, with sets performed by Ricky Martin, Canada’s Tenors, and members of the crowd, including a 22-year-old female Israeli solder who wowed the audience with her rendition of Sarah McLachlan‘s song “Angel.”
“It’s a humbling experience to be here amongst these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country,” said computer magnate Dell, “Susan and I are honored to be able to support their higher education” Tisch expressed similar sentiments, adding, “The men and women of the IDF sacrifice so much to ensure that our history is safeguarded and our future is bright. It is the least we can do to celebrate and support them here tonight.”
Said Arad: “After spending my own time defending Israel, I know that now more than ever the soldiers of the IDF need our support. This summer we experienced the worst bloodshed and devastation that we have seen in recent history. Our community of civilians has a moral responsibility to rise up and show our gratitude for these soldiers’ bravery as they fight terrorism and defend our frontlines.”
Palestinians collect their belongings from under the rubble of a residential tower, which witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on August 24, 2014. (Photo: UN Photo-Shareef Sarhan/flickr/cc)
Critics say it is “shameful” that a high-ranking U.S. military official suggested the Pentagon can learn lessons from Israel’s 50-day attack on Gaza this summer.
According the Jerusalem Post, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey made statements Thursday praising the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) for taking “extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties” during Operation Protective Edge.
Dempsey told an audience at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs: “We sent a team of senior officers and non-commissioned officers over to work with the IDF to get the lessons from that particular operation in Gaza.” He referred to the group of officers as the “lessons learned team.”
But Ramah Kudaimi of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation said Israel’s tactics should not be replicated.
“It is very disturbing and shameful that U.S. military commanders believe that what Israel did in Gaza is something to be applauded,” Kudaimi told Common Dreams. “Five hundred dead children does not seem to be evidence that Israel was trying to not kill civilians. The seven-year siege on Gaza is not a policy to avoid civilian suffering.”
Israel’s recent seven-week military assault on Gaza killed at least 2,194 Palestinians, at least 75 percent of them civilians and over 500 of them children.
“At least 80 percent of the 100,000 Palestinian homes damaged or destroyed were refugee homes,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency reports.
The offensive damaged or destroyed over half of Gaza’s hospitals and health centers at a time when more than 11,000 were wounded, a UNRWA and World Health Organization joint investigation found.
Israel struck six UN schools sheltering Palestinians, including in cases where exact coordinates of the shelters were formally submitted by UNRWA to the Isreali military. These strikes alone killed at least 47 people and wounded hundreds.
“It is very despicable that the U.S. continues to white-wash Israeli crimes while funding them through military aid,” said Kudaimi. “Dempsey’s statements are not shocking. Anyone who follows U.S. military policy, knows they too have problematic definitions of protecting civilians.”
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