Days after dozens of stars from Spain's cultural scene signed a letter blasting Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip, Hollywood actor Jon Voight has come out in support of the Jewish state.
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In a scathing letter published by the Hollywood Reporter, Voight writes that he is not only angry, but "heartsick" that stars like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, who were signatories to the anti-Israel letter, could "incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused."
"They are obviously ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth," writes Voight, who is actress Angelina Jolie's father. He goes on to describe the circumstances surrounding the War of Independence and other wars Israel has fought since, until he adds:
"And yet Israel has always labored for a peaceful relation with its Arab neighbors. It voluntarily returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for peace, and gave the Palestinians all of Gaza as a peace gesture. What was the response? The Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, and they immediately began firing thousands of rockets into Israel. "
Voight later writes that "instead of my peers sticking up for the only democratic country in that region, they go and take out poison letters against them," before urging his peers in Hollywood to "examine their motives" in signing the anti-Israel letter.
"Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?" he writes. Adding, "You had a great responsibility to use your celebrity for good. Instead, you have defamed the only democratic country of goodwill in the Middle East: Israel. You should hang your heads in shame. You should all come forth with deep regrets for what you did, and ask forgiveness from the suffering people in Israel."
Prior to Voight's letter, the Hollywood Reporter published a clarification by Bardem, in which he says his endorsement of the letter was a call for peace and that he has "great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses."
"I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife — which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war," he wrote, referring to Penelope Cruz.
For her part, Cruz said in a clarification that her "only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza."