Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are only two of the many Hollywood A-listers to make public comments on the Israel-Gaza conflict, taking the Palestinian side and calling Israel’s actions “genocide.” This has created a backlash in an industry that is heavily tied to Israel.
It’s not easy to have opinions in Hollywood — one way or another –, but it has been a long-standing belief that most celebrities are known to be liberals and openly support Democrats. If this is the norm as far as domestic politics, lashing out against Israel in their conflict with Hamas doesn’t seem to go well with some of the higher-ups in Hollywood.
As a 72-hour cease-fire in the deadly conflict is currently being observed by both sides, Hollywood is trying to move past the anti-Israel comments made by some of its biggest stars. While everyone is entitled to an opinion in the matter, those who decide to be vocal could face a backlash in the industry.
It is no secret that many of Hollywood big guns are strong Israeli sympathizers, and as such, they are livid at what they see as misinformed and poorly timed comments on the part of Hollywood’s biggest names. Some are even taking the statements personally, which could affect future collaborations.
Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz accused Israel of “genocide” in an open letter, published on July 25. The first Hollywood executive to go public with his disapproval is Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, who didn’t mince words when he spoke to The Hollywood Reporter:
“As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know that anyone calling what’s going on in Israel ‘genocide’ vs. self-defense is either ignorant and shouldn’t be commenting or is truly anti-Semitic…”
Kavanaugh added that the letter — which was signed by 100 movie makers — made “his blood boil” and said he received more than 500 calls, texts, and emails supporting his public remarks. This would indicate that support for Israel in the conflict is extensive among high-ranking executives in Hollywood.
THR claims that many top executives that are not willing to go on the record contacted them sharing similar thoughts to those Kavanaugh expressed, with one stating he is “furious with Javier and Penelope” and questioning whether or not he would hire either of the actors again.
Not completely unexpectedly, the couple later backpedaled, when Cruz stated they weren’t “experts” on the Middle East. Another Hollywood executive commented that the “clarification” were met with “a collective eye roll.” However, Cruz and Bardem never retracted their accusations of Israeli genocide.
As reported by The Inquisitr, actor Jon Voight — one of the few vocal Conservatives in the industry — lashed out at Bardem and Cruz’s letter, saying in part:
“I am more than angry, I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.”
Voight — who said the couple should “hang their heads in shame” and were “ignorant” — didn’t stop with Bardem and Cruz and asked others who signed the anti-Israel letter to, “examine their motives. Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?” he asked.
Voight has been joined by Hollywood celebrities such as Howard Stern, Joan Rivers, and Bill Maher, who have expressed support for Israel in the conflict. Many big names of Jewish descent, including Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, and Jeffery Katzenberg, have remained silent publicly as Israel supporters attempt to bring them out of hiding.
As many in Hollywood question why other well known Israel supporters remain mum on the issue, there is also movie-goers to worry about. While Kavanaugh doesn’t believe that Bardem and Cruz or any of the others that signed that letter will see their careers affected, the studios are concerned about how their words will affect the lucrative international markets.
“I think the thing any executive or producer will try to calculate before working with Penelope Cruz or Javier Bardem in the near future is what their value is in the all-important international marketplace. And what territories they might have alienated people in by what they said. It might not be that many. But it’s really all about business.”
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