A plethora of Hollywood’s familiar faces – and some not-so-familiar – have signed their names to a statement in opposition of Hamas, whom they hold responsible for the current strife in Gaza. 194 actors, producers, directors and other entertainment professionals, including Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, expressed their dismay at the loss of life on both sides of the conflict, but accused Hamas of harboring “ideologies of hatred and genocide” which perpetuate the conflict.
The signatories call themselves The Creative Community for Peace, and in their own words, “represent a cross section of the creative world – those who create and help create music, films, and television programs – and their fans.”
The statement was originally released Saturday night, and slated for publication in Billboard, Variety and Hollywood Reporter magazines on Sunday. It is the first statement of its kind to come out of the entertainment industry. It condemns Hamas for terrorizing Israeli citizens and for holding its own people hostage in the process.
The brief but eloquent text points out, “Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.”
This group is not the first to weigh in on the current situation between Israel and Gaza. Notable celebrities have been quick to condemn Israel’s actions in the Strip, though many then backpedaled, saying they are supporting peace, not opposing Israel.
Pop star Selena Gomez urged her followers to “Pray for Gaza,” then later added she was “not picking any sides.” Rihanna tweeted #freePalestine, but later deleted the post, replacing it with an image of Israeli and Palestinian children walking arm-in-arm, with the caption, “Let’s pray for peace and a swift end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!”
Madonna posted a photo of flowers, saying, “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has the right to destroy them? No One!!!,” later tweeting, “I do not support Hamas! I support Peace!” The most virulent comments came from husband-and-wife Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, who signed a letter accusing Israel of genocide. When confronted by fellow actor Jon Voight, Cruz admitted she was”not an expert on the situation,” and both spouses claimed they only wanted to promote peace in the region.
The voices in support of Israel, however, have been far fewer until now. In addition to Voight, outspoken comedian Joan Rivers, along with Mayim Bialik, Roseanne Barr, Jackie Mason and Howard Stern, have expressed their solidarity, and both Bialik and Barr have signed the Creative Community for Peace’s statement. Other notable signatories include comedians Sarah Silverman and Bill Maher, musician Ziggy Marley, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, director Ivan Reitman, media mogul Haim Saban, and actors Seth Rogen, Kelsey Grammer and Minnie Driver.
The full text of the statement 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.”
The Creative Community for Peace also organized an anti-boycott petition, encouraging artists to continue visiting and performing in Israel.