Cruz, Bardem Face Hollywood Backlash Over Israel Comments

Image: Cruz, Bardem Face Hollywood Backlash Over Israel Comments Javier Bardem, left, and Penelope Cruz. (Doug Peters/PA Photos/Landov)

Monday, 11 Aug 2014 11:08 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Film stars Penelope Cruz and husband Javier Bardem are facing a backlash from Hollywood after they accused Israel of committing "genocide" against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Producer Ryan Kavanaugh and other unnamed executives and studio heads told The Hollywood Reporter magazine that they are furious over an anti-Israel letter signed by 100 leading figures in the Spanish film business, including Cruz, Bardem and director Pedro Almodovar.

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The open letter, which has also been slammed by "Ray Donovan" star Jon Voight, accused Israel of invading Palestinian territories "instead of withdrawing to the 1967 borders," and added, "Gaza is living through horror… while the international community does nothing."

Saying "it makes my blood boil," Kavanaugh, the CEO of Relativity Media and producer of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," told the 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."

After his comments were published, Kavanaugh said had he received hundreds of calls and texts from industry leaders who support Israel's right to defend itself from Hamas, which had launched hundreds of rockets into the country and had built a complex of tunnels to smuggle in weapons and plan terror atrocities.

One top producer who has worked with Cruz says he has vowed not to hire her again, the Reporter said. Another top executive said he's "furious at Javier and Penelope" and also expressed doubts, along with many others, about working with either of them again.

The couple have since attempted to downplay their remarks, but their seemingly self-serving clarification was met with a "collective eye role," one executive told the Reporter.

However, another executive said that the letter did not reach the level of film star Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rants, while Voight told the Reporter that creating a "blacklist" does not help Israel's cause.

Kavanaugh said that he does not believe that in the long run the letter will hurt Cruz's or Bardem's careers as long as their films are successful.

Another producer said, "I think the thing any executive or producer will try to calculate before working with Penelope or Javier 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."

"America's Got Talent" judge Howard Stern, comedian Joan Rivers, and political satirist Bill Maher have all thrown their support behind Israel.

When Rivers was asked by a TMZ reporter about her feeling on the hundreds of Palestinian civilians who have been killed in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, she said, "When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. Don't you dare make me feel bad about that. At least the ones that were killed were the ones with low IQs."

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