Jon Voight’s letter in support of Israel to Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem is full on anger but short on facts
The recent open letter signed by Spanish film personalities, including Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, condemning the Israeli military action in Gaza attracted both admiration and condemnation in equal measure. Many people, horrified by the indiscriminate bombing being committed against civilians, welcomed the intervention in the face of almost complete silence from the entertainment industry. It has, on the other hand, provoked a fierce backlash causing Cruz to publish a further clarification that she only wanted “peace in Israel and Gaza”.
Jon Voight, now more famous for being Angelina Jolie’s father than for his former acting career, has also waded into the debate, criticising the Spanish actors as being “ignorant” and inciting anti-Semitism. I was not expecting to be impressed by his article, but on reading his letter, I was struck by the factual errors and rewriting of history which completely undermine any point he may have tried to make.
Here are eight glaring errors he makes:
1. “In 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921″
The creation of Israel has a complex history which originates in the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the administration of the region by the British Mandate following this. The British Mandate for Palestine was formally confirmed in 1922 and came into effect in 1923. The UN Partition Plan was voted upon in 1947. However it was never implemented due to the outbreak of civil war following the resolution.
2. “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.”
To describe the UN Partition Plan as an ‘offer’ grossly misrepresents the facts. The Partition Plan was imposed upon the Palestinians against their will and was never accepted by the Arab states. Threatened with the imminent loss of their land and a huge influx of Jewish migrants from Europe, civil war broke out in Palestine between Arabs and the nascent Jewish state.
3. “The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973″
In fact, the 1967 war was started by Israel’s preemptive strike on Egyptian airfields. The 1973 war, known as the Yom Kippur war, was started by Egypt to reclaim territory that Israel had occupied following the 1967 war. By omitting this key fact, the letter aims to present Israel as the victim and the Arab states as aggressors.
4. “It voluntarily returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for peace, and gave the Palestinians all of Gaza as a peace gesture.”
Returning land that it had effectively stolen (leaving aside the annexation of the Palestinian land in 1948) cannot be described as a ‘peace gesture’.
5. “Did Hamas not kidnap and kill three young teenagers for the sake of killing, and celebrated after the killing?”
This supposed fact was undone after the BBC correspondent Jon Donnison revealed on Twitter that an Israeli police spokesperson had stated the teenagers were in fact killed by a ‘lone cell’ and not by Hamas.
6. “After years of running into bomb shelters and having hundreds of civilians killed by suicide bombers, civilians being killed in their sleep, stabbed to pieces, finding enough is enough and finally retaliating”
This piece of high drama does not accurately explain the current ‘retaliation’. The US-funded Iron dome has ensured that Israeli citizens largely do not suffer injury as a result of Hamas rockets. There has not been a suicide bombing since 2008, so this cannot be the reason for the current action either.
7. “You have defamed the only democratic country of goodwill in the Middle East: Israel.”
Israel may boast of its position as the only democracy in the Middle East, but this is a superficial claim. Israeli Arabs have long complained of unequal treatment and the treatment of Palestinians is clearly discriminatory. Voight is further conveniently forgetting that Palestinians also elected Hamas in a democratic process.
8. “You have been able to become famous and have all your monetary gains because you are in a democratic country: America.”
It may be a small point, but the actors are Spanish, they don’t live in America. Perhaps this is why they are able to get away from the intense pressure to keep quiet on this issue, which has given rise to the ‘tweet and delete’ phenomenon.
Aside from all of this, there is a definite tone of emotional blackmail and an attempt to shame the Spanish film stars for trying to stand up for justice. Jon Voight’s letter rings with the self confidence of the Zionist lobby which allows the explaining away of dead children and the destruction of UN safe havens. It send a clear warning to the rest of the entertainment industry, that they have no authority to question Israel’s actions in Gaza. The strongly-worded text of Javier Bardem’s letter does not overstate the facts – the genocide of over 1900 civilians has occurred and requires all people of conscience to stand together to condemn this brutal action.
Image from: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jon-voight-pens-letter-ignorant-723007?utm_expid=19303748-95.-MaQhQt6RHyzFO0fFD96sg.0&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
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