Jon Voight is not pleased with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. The Spanish supercouple, along with others like director Pedro Almodovar, signed a letter condemning the actions of Israel earlier this week. Now, Voight is back with a vengeance in his own letter, published today in the Hollywood Reporter.
And yet Israel has always labored for a peaceful relation with its Arab neighbors. It voluntarily returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for peace, and gave the Palestinians all of Gaza as a peace gesture. What was the response? The Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, and they immediately began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.
After years of trying to make peace, the wars they had to fight, being attacked by their enemies, and still being attacked, and finally after years of running into bomb shelters and having hundreds of civilians killed by suicide bombers, civilians being killed in their sleep, stabbed to pieces, finding enough is enough and finally retaliating, instead of my peers sticking up for the only democratic country in that region, they go and take out poison letters against them.
A few days after the first letter came out, both Bardem and Cruz clarified their statements. "While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses," Bardem said in a statement on Thursday. "I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife — which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war."
Voight has long been vocal about his support for Israel, and this isn't the first time he's put out an open letter in response to celebrities criticizing the country. In 2009, Jane Fonda and others signed an online petition in support of the director John Greyson, who threatened to pull his movie from the Toronto Film Festival if there was a special city spotlight on Tel Aviv. Voight put out a letter of his own:
"Jane Fonda's whole idea of the 'poor Palestinians,' and 'look how many Palestinians the Israelis killed in Gaza,' is misconstrued. Does she not remember what actually took place in Gaza? Did Israel not give the Palestinians of Gaza the hope that there could be peace? In response, did Hamas not launch rockets from Gaza into Israel, killing many innocent people?" Voight wrote. "This seems to me to be another one of Jane Fonda's misplaced 'patriotic' duties toward the wrong people. I was in Israel. I saw the rockets coming down on Sderot, and visited many families who lost their loved ones. How long can a democratic country keep from defending itself? Time and again, [Israel] offered the Palestinians land. They always refused."
Of course, no amount of celebrity intervention is going to bring peace, which Voight, Bardem and Cruz all say is the goal. Rihanna and Dwight Howard made waves recently for tweeting pro-Palestinian sentiments. But, as is usually the case, it seems Jon Stewart is the most level-headed figure.
"Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this," Stewart said on the Daily Show last week. "But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel's policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas."