Tags: israel | toronto | festival

Hollywood Celebrities Squabbling Over Israel

By James Hirsen   |   Tuesday, 22 Sep 2009 12:11 PM

On one side you have Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, David Byrne, Julie Christie, and Viggo Mortensen. On the other you have Jerry Seinfeld, Seth Rogen, Robert Duvall, Halle Berry, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisa Kudrow, and Lenny Kravitz.

At issue is the nation of Israel, its policies in Gaza, and the Toronto Film Festival.

Fonda, Glover and other celebs published a protest and boycott letter alleging that the Toronto fest had become an agent of the "Israeli propaganda machine."

A Canadian documentary filmmaker, John Greyson, withdrew his film from the festival because, according to Greyson, the event's sister-city relationship with Tel Aviv was an implicit endorsement of “the smiling face of Israeli apartheid.”

These sentiments are the same as those of the American and European left and are prevalent in celebrity circles, where condemning Israeli policies have become trendy.

For example, last January rocker Annie Lennox led a group that included Ken Livingstone, Bianca Jagger, George Galloway, and Alexei Sayle and called for an end to the “slaughter and systematic murder” of Arabs in Gaza.

Former high-powered Hollywood agent Dan Adler created a response advertisement to denounce the aforementioned protest letter.

Celebrities, including Seinfeld, Rogen, Duvall, Berry, Cohen, Kudrow, and Kravitz, signed on in droves. But a host of execs and filmmakers, including Ron Meyer, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sherry Lansing, Neal Moritz, Jonathan Glickman, Nina Jacobson, Darren Star, Nathan Kahane, Gail Berman, and Ed Zwick, also signed on.

“The world always had anti-Semites,” Hollywood financier Haim Saban told the Los Angeles Times in an e-mail exchange. “It has now and always will, but the people of Israel always have, and always will live and prosper. Sorry Jew haters. You lose.”

Fonda has apparently felt the pressure. She posted on her blog and in the Huffington Post that she had not read everything that was in the document she signed.

“It was the outcry that ensued that caused me to study it more carefully,” Fonda said. “It was then that I saw that there were parts of it that I did not agree with. . .

“Some of the words in the protest letter did not come from my heart, words that are unnecessarily inflammatory: The simplistic depiction of Tel Aviv as a city ‘built on destroyed Palestinian villages,’ for instance, and the omission of any mention of Hamas' eight-month-long rocket and mortar attacks on the town of Sderot and the western Negev to which Israel was responding when it launched its war on Gaza.” the actress added. “By neglecting to do this the letter allowed good people to close their ears and their hearts.”

Fonda may have just made herself into a persona non grata in Hollywood, something that even her posing with the Viet Kong couldn't accomplish.

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