An Open Letter to Penelope Cruz

If artists and intellectuals have a social role, and sometimes I’m quite doubtful about that, it is to be familiar with the facts and to confront them.

Yehonatan Geffen
Yehonatan Geffen
Penelope Cruz at the 84th Academy Awards, February 26, 2012.
Penelope Cruz at the 84th Academy Awards, February 26, 2012.Credit: AP
Yehonatan Geffen
Yehonatan Geffen

I have loved you for years, I’ve seen all your films twice and “All About My Mother” six times. In my masculine eyes you have always been the most beautiful girl in the world. In the world? In the universe! I also participated quite recently in a barroom brawl in which a man with vulgar taste dared to say to me that Angelina Jolie is more beautiful than you, and I took it very hard.

I had a small crisis of jealousy when you married actor Javier Bardem, but the really serious crisis was when I read the manifesto you wrote together with other outstanding Spanish artists against my country, which is committing genocide and should be subject to a cultural and diplomatic boycott. And this is being said to you not by some thug with a rusty Iron Dome on his head, but someone who is in general agreement with you but doesn’t think that a boycott has ever helped anything or anyone for the good of humankind. As a native of this country who still believes that it can be saved from itself, I believe that dialogue and seeing the other person are always more effective than a boycott and curses.

If you were to come to this terrible place, my sweet Pen, you would understand that like you there is a large and humiliated, and often even cursed, group of people who believe, like you, that the existing situation humiliates them, and for years they have been carrying the burden of disgrace and the shame of the occupation on their weak leftist shoulders.

And believe me, Penelope, I said “leftists” although there is no longer such a thing as left and right, there’s only up and down, and now we’re down; and believe me it’s not really very entertaining to be in the same camp as MK Haneen Zoabi and columnist Gideon Levy. You wouldn’t last for 15 minutes with them, Penelope.

You are probably also unaware that some of us are seriously considering a situation of a civil war in favor of values and against territories; and as a pure-blooded Spanish woman, I don’t have to tell you too much about civil wars. When it happened in your country a million civilians were killed and in the end the bad guys won. Things like that happen too in wars over values.

If artists and intellectuals have a social role, and sometimes I’m quite doubtful about that, it is to be familiar with the facts and to confront them. The easiest thing is to ostracize us and hate us. And the guru of this vulgar art is Roger Waters, the leader of Pink Floyd and now a minor leader of the “light” anti-Semites.

Roger not only boycotts us, he makes a point of telling other artists not to come here. Recently he also wrote a letter to Neil Young warning him not to come near us, as though we were lepers. And believe me, my beloved Pen, until now – the tiny camp consisting of me and my local fellow artists did much more for Pink Floyd than the band did for us. The members of my generation raised an entire generation on the band’s messages of peace and love, and with youthful naivete believed that each one of them was only a brick in the wall of the nation and the bourgeoisie. Many of them have already died in wars and campaigns with their songs on the Walkman and later on the iPhone, and afterwards in heaven too, if there is a Paradise.

We will never understand how a poet and rocker who was a symbol of tolerance and the sound track for pursuers of peace and freedom turned into a grouchy and rich old Brit, who boycotts and ostracizes and incites other singers to boycott and ostracize, and hey, Penelope, when was the last time Roger wrote a good song? Is it possible that he has gone over, like the name of his band’s wonderful album, to the dark side of the moon?

Penelope, your ancient Greek name is composed of two words: weaving and eye, and therefore has become an adjective for a woman who waits and knits. And if it interests you – all the new Israeli mythology, in poetry and literature, is composed of women who wait, “Wait for me and I’ll return, wait well…” And if you also read the “Odyssey,” you too must be familiar with the first Penelope, the ancient Greek woman who broke a world record for waiting. She waited for 20 years for Odysseus, who embarked on a ground operation in Troy, and took care of the sweet baby Telemachus, refusing the violent courtship of mythological princes and celebrities.

And when Odysseus returned, Penelope was not interested in his stories of heroism (and of course entirely repressed his hot love affair with the nymph Calypso). She was just happy that he had returned alive. And you have no idea, Penelope, how many Penelopes live in this country, abandoned and sad for eternity. Some of them refuse to believe that their Odysseuses will never return, some of them will be bodies traded with the enemy. And even if someone returns – he will be a different and gloomy Odysseus.

And what can I tell you, Penelope, just because I love you so much, I found it hard that you were unable to understand that in this country there are also people who hope that there will never be any more women here who wait in vain.

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