Film actor Jon Voight has penned a Saturday oped in the Hollywood Reporter that slammed fellow actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, who are married to one another, for signing a letter along with a group of Spanish actors, writers, and film makers condemning Israel’s campaign against Hamas as “genocide.” Voight, a well-known Hollywood conservative, suggested that Cruz and Bardem should “hang their heads in shame” for expressing their “ignorance” about the Middle East and its history. There is some evidence that the two are doing just that.
“They are obviously ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth, when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921, and the Arab Palestinians were offered the other half. The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea. But the Israelis won. The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973, launching a sneak attack on the holiest Jewish holiday. Each time the Jews prevailed but not without great loss of life. And when Israel was not fighting a major war, it was defending itself against terrorist campaigns.
“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. “
Voight went on to suggest that it is in fact Israel which is the aggrieved party in the current war. Besides the rocket bombardment, the star of such films as “Coming Home” and “The Odessa File” as well as the TV series "Ray Donovan" mentioned the murder of three Israeli teenager, one also an American citizen, by Hamas terrorists. He accused the actors of defaming Israel, the only democratic country in the Middle East.
It looks like Cruz and Bardem are trying the walk back the caustic comments in the letter they signed in Spain. Both have endured hot criticism for the letter, which many like Voight are suggesting was one sided at best, anti-Semitic at worst. According to USA Today, Cruz has become a little less caustic about the Middle East.
"I'm not an expert on the situation and I'm aware of the complexity of it. My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border. I wish for unity, and peace... I believe in a civilization that can be capable of bringing the courage to have a world where humans can live side by side."
Bardem was also obliged to deny he is an anti-Semite. Now he too only wants peace and love in the Middle East, suggesting, “Too many innocent Palestinian mothers have lost their children to this conflict. Too many innocent Israeli mothers share the same grief. There should not be any political reason that can justify such enormous pain on both sides.” It was a considerably softer tone than the letter that labeled Israel as “genocidal.”
The takeaway from this kerfuffle is rather simple. When one is in the public eye, one should be careful about what ones says. This is especially true when it is about subjects about which one admits one is no expert in. The history and politics of the Middle East is a prime example.