Close to 200 Hollywood executives, celebrities and creatives — among them Aaron Sorkin, Greg Berlanti, Josh Charles, Amy Pascal, Sylvester Stallone, Seth Rogen, Kelsey Grammer, Jerry Weintraub, Ivan Reitman, HBO’s Richard Plepler, MGM’s Gary Barber, lawyer Alan Wertheimer and pr veteran Alan Nierob — have put their names on a statement criticizing Hamas and posted on the website of a pro-Israel coalition, Creative Community for Peace and Friends.
“Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage,” the statement reads, in part. “Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.”
The group says it comprises individuals across the entertainment industry who “may not all share the same politics or the same opinion on the best path to peace in the Middle East. But we do agree that singling out Israel, the only democracy in the region, as a target of cultural boycotts while ignoring the now-recognized human rights issues of her neighbors will not further peace.”
Asked what prompted the statement, CCPF board member and talent rep David Lonner said: “There’s been a lot of confusion in the media of what’s actually going in the Gaza strip, but for those of us who go to Israel, it’s not complicated at all. So there’s been a feeling for a while now of how to get a message across and uncomplicate matters, and we think this is a step in the right direction to do that.” Over the years, Lonner has taken many people from Hollywood to Israel. “I had taken a group of executives to Israel from 2006 to 2008 – for three consecutive years I took people there – so they could be on the ground to see what was going on.” Those in the industry who went with him, he said, include Amy Pascal, Roger Birnbaum, Jon Turteltaub, and Alexander Payne.
“When you talk to artists like Javier Bardem and Pedro Almodovar, you have to think, ‘Where do you think your movies are being watched in the Middle East?’ They can’t be watched anywhere else but in Israel. When you are on the ground, you realize that you are in a very free and progressive society, and it’s a region where people can’t pay to see the product that we’re making other than in Israel.”
The CCPF statement, which 190 industry people signed, is below. It will run in a number of publications and Hollywood trades, and reads as follows:
We, the undersigned, are saddened by the devastating loss of life endured by Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. We are pained by the suffering on both sides of the conflict and hope for a solution that brings peace to the region.
While we stand firm in our commitment to peace and justice, we must also stand firm against ideologies of hatred and genocide which are reflected in Hamas’ charter, Article 7 of which reads, “There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” The son of a Hamas founder has also commented about the true nature of Hamas.
Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.
We join together in support of the democratic values we all cherish and in the hope that the healing and transformative power of the arts can be used to build bridges of peace.
Lana Melman, director of Creative Community for Peace and a former Paramount Television vice president, called the statement “a collaboration. Many people in the industry reached out to their friends and we were able to get more names.”
Other industry figures signing their names to the CCFP’s statement include Avi Arad, Dan Bucatinsky, Donald De Line, Minnie Driver, William Friedkin, Evan Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, Avi Lerner, Brian Medavoy, Richard Plepler, Haim Saban, Michael Tolkin, Danny Sussman, Bernie Weinraub, Rick Yorn and Pete Yorn.
This statement is the latest in a series of statements from entertainment industry figures about the ongoing violence between Israel and Gaza. On Saturday, more than 300 Holocaust survivors and their descendants signed a petition via the “International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network,” condemning Israel’s “genocide” of the Palestinian people. On Thursday, filmmaker Ken Loach gave a speech at the Sarajevo Film Festival, where Palestinian directors Abdel Salam Shehadeh and Ashraf Mashharawi were being lauded, calling for an “absolute boycott of all the cultural happenings supported by the Israeli state.”
Pro-Israel op-eds from Jon Voight and Kavanaugh (whose name is also on this list) were published in recent weeks, spurred by a pro-Palestinian open letter accusing Israel of genocide, which included signatures from Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz and director Pedro Almodovar. Cruz and Bardem later “clarified” their positions, specifying that they were only calling for peace in Gaza. On Aug. 17, Russell Brand, in his online video series The Trews, called for for six companies to divest holdings in Israeli military operations that “support and facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza.”
The Creative Community for Peace was initially started by David Renzer, former chairman of Universal music publishing who is now head of Spirit Music Group, a music publishing company.