It’s official: Right now the No. 1 rule in Hollywood is that you can talk about anything political—except Israel’s attack on the Christians and Muslims in Gaza, Palestine.
That’s not a conspiracy theory from critics of Israel or Jew-hating neo-Nazis. Instead, that was the thesis of a candid article in the August 1 edition of The Hollywood Reporter (THR), influential trade journal of the entertainment industry.
In fact, the article was bluntly titled: “Rule 1: Talk About Anything Political in Hollywood . . . Except Gaza.”
That such an article would appear in a magazine considered “must” reading for those in show business was a not-so-subtle warning that anyone who violates that rule is in for a tough road ahead.
Noting several celebrities had expressed sympathies for the plight of Gaza, THR commented ominously that—“for now at least” —powerful Jewish moguls in Hollywood were simply dismissing those entertainers as being “uninformed.” However, continue speaking out this way and there will be trouble.
Adding breezily that it is commonplace for Hollywood executives “to be on a first name basis with prominent Israeli politicians and business leaders,” THR cooed that this intimacy with Israel explains why so many Hollywood figures who otherwise have much to say about a lot of political issues are silent about Gaza—with only a few exceptions.
Those exceptions—which caused a stir in Jewish circles and a big buzz in Hollywood—included such well-known names as husband-and-wife acting team Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz (both Academy Award winners) and two-time Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodavor, who joined dozens of fellow Spanish actors, directors, musicians and writers in an open letter condemning the assault on Gaza, describing Israel’s policies as “genocide.”
Meanwhile, American actor Jon Voight jumped into action, charging Bardem, Ms. Cruz and their colleagues with “inciting anti-Semitism,” which, of course, brought denials from the accused. Ms. Cruz rushed to explain she was “not an expert” and shouldn’t be misunderstood.
Voight has spent his own entire career vocally proving his love for Israel, well aware it is common knowledge among Hollywood power brokers that his late uncle—the legendary political writer Joseph P. Kamp—was an outspoken critic of Jewish intrigues, particularly targeting the notorious Anti-Defamation League, a big player in Hollywood affairs. Kamp—by the way—was a contributing editor to The Spotlight, AMERICAN FREE PRESS’s forerunner. Voight’s equally politically-outspoken daughter, actress Angelina Jolie, has made it so big she is now a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
THR reported that powerful Hollywood kingpin Haim Saban—an Israeli citizen—drafted a statement responding to Israel’s critics that was “so strong” that—after being sent to his publicist for review—was never issued. In short: Saban is really mad, and Israel’s critics better watch out. After all, billionaire Saban, who has said his number one concern is protecting Israel, puts his money where his mouth is, bankrolling endeavors—such as the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington—that promote the Zionist agenda.
In two other Gaza-related “scandals,” actress Selena Gomez dared to post an image on “Instagram” that read: “It’s about humanity. Pray for Gaza,” and popular hip-hopper Rihanna posted “Free Palestine” to the Internet. After coming under fire, Ms. Gomez assured fans she wasn’t taking sides and Rihanna deleted her own post eight minutes after posting it.
Comic Jackie Mason—a trained rabbi—told conservative radio host Aaron Klein that entertainment industry critics of Israel come from “anti-Semitic, low-class backgrounds where a Jew is the most disgusting thing in the world to them.”
THR quoted Ken Solomon, chairman and chief executive officer of The Tennis Channel, Inc., and top Democratic fundraiser—whose grandparents lived in Israel. Solomon, who audaciously said in response to Rihanna and the others: “I think there’s a place for celebrities to get involved, whether it’s the environment or social issues. But getting involved in foreign policy debates? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. . . . With all due respect to Rihanna, unless she’s been studying this, she shouldn’t be talking about it.” In other words, in foreign policy, unless you’re pro-Israel, just shut up.
Jewish comic Joan Rivers, born Joan Molinsky, would have no problem with that argument. Believing Israel is imperiled, she once said: “I worry they’re going to wipe it off the Earth. I only hope they [Israel] will take us all with them, because Jews shouldn’t go quietly this time. If they’re going to kill us, we’re going to kill you right back.”
Those violent comments, it seems, are acceptable, since, after all, Ms. Rivers is Jewish and pro-Israel.
Michael Collins Piper is an author, journalist, lecturer and radio show host. He has spoken in Russia, Malaysia, Iran, Abu Dhabi, Japan, Canada and the U.S.