Pro-BDS Groups Urge Oscar Nominees to Skip Free Israel Trip

U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace place full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times, five days before the Academy Awards ceremony.

Reuters
Reuters
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
An Oscar statue is seen during setup for the 88th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, February 24, 2016.
An Oscar statue is seen during setup for the 88th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, February 24, 2016.Credit: AP
Reuters
Reuters

Oscar-nominated celebrities were urged on Wednesday to skip a $55,000 trip to Israel offered as part of an awards gift bag.

Two U.S.-based groups campaigning for an end to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories made the plea in a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times that appeared five days before the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday.

"#SkipTheTrip. Don't endorse Israeli apartheid," said the ad, sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace.

The ad said the trip, which is partially paid for by the Israeli government, was part of a larger "'Brand Israel' strategy to distract from almost 50 years of illegal occupation of Palestinian land."

"As was the case many years ago in South Africa, celebrities are being asked to refrain from whitewashing apartheid policies," Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation attempted to run this advertisement in Variety, but the magazine refused.Credit: JTA/Courtesy Jewish Voice for Peace

The trip is one of the most expensive items in a swag bag handed out to the five Oscar-nominated directors and 20 lead and supporting actor and actress nominees, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Rylance, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Matt Damon and Kate Winslet.

The gift bag is not affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars.

The Academy last week filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles-based Distinctive Assets accusing the gifting group of promoting the bag as official Oscars swag.

The Israeli government earlier this month confirmed it was funding $15,000 to $18,000 of each 10-day trip as a means of offsetting news coverage of the country's troubles.

"These are the most senior people in the film industry in Hollywood and leading opinion-formers who we are interested in hosting," said Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. "They will experience the country first-hand and not through the media."

It was not immediately known whether any of the Oscar-nominated directors, actors and actresses will take up the offer, which must be declared to U.S. tax authorities.

"Creed" supporting actor Stallone signed a pro-Israel petition during the 2104 Gaza war, while "Bridge of Spies" nominee Rylance has signed a petition circulated by Artists for Palestine UK which calls for a cultural boycott of Israel.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed

AIPAC

AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op