By Ze’ev Ben-Yechiel, Tazpit News Agency
The war between Israel and Hamas seems to have produced an unlikely alliance: Hollywood and the Republican Party. In the span of just over two weeks, both GOP lawmakers and movie stars have come out with statements of support for the Jewish state in its battle against Hamas terrorism, a rare sign of accord between the traditional adversaries.
Last Saturday, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone headed a list of nearly 200 Hollywood actors, producers and directors in signing a petition calling to “stand firm against ideologies of hatred and genocide” in Hamas’s charter. Earlier in the month, the Republican National Committee similarly adopted a resolution supporting Israel’s right to self defense and calling for the demilitarization of Gaza.
The common tone of the statements in their support of Israel bridges an ideological chasm between the conservative GOP and a film industry considered to be devoutly liberal and openly hostile to the right-leaning party. Saturday’s petition, the largest of its kind ever to come out of Hollywood, also marks a departure from the stridently critical stance towards Israel often taken by its celebrities.
“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,” the letter begins.
“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,” continued the statement, which came partly as a reaction to recent statements by a number of actors condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza, including outright accusations of genocide.
The letter’s signatories upheld Israel’s right to defend itself against its terrorist adversary. “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 earlier Republican resolution, although less surprising than the Hollywood statement, carried the same message of support for Israel and condemnation of Hamas:
“Israel has a sovereign right to defend itself, its territory and its citizens,” began the resolution. It went on to say that “Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, has fired more than 3,000 rockets at Israeli civilians…Hamas, counter to international law, uses its civilians as human shields and locates its missile batteries in and near schools, hospitals and mosques.”
The statement noted that in contrast, Israel “takes great care to avoid civilian casualties, including the use of phone calls, text messages, leaflet drops to encourage evacuation from dangerous areas,” adding that “Hamas is a violent and unrepentant terror organization that has shown no signs of moderation or reform from their stated goals to ‘unify the Palestinian people against…the Zionist enemy’ and to fight for the ‘liberation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the rest of Palestine [i.e., the entire State of Israel].'”
The resolution went on to conclude that “the Republican National Committee supports the bi-partisan concerns expressed by an overwhelming majority of both houses of the US Congress in support of the state of Israel to defend themselves against Hamas…. The Republican National Committee supports the permanent demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, including the dismantlement of Hamas’ rockets and tunnels,” adding that the committee favors “continuing and additional funding to enhance Israel’s defensive capabilities.”
The show of support by Hollywood gladdened longtime supporters of Israel, including Kory Bardash, director of the Israel chapter of Republicans Abroad. “It’s very encouraging to see members of the Hollywood community be supportive of Israel,” said Kory.
“As a community that prides itself in, and is by and large associated with liberal causes and liberal politics,” Hollywood finally seems to have understood and recognized that “Israel truly is a liberal cause due to its democratic principles,” he added.
While the Democratic Party has traditionally enjoyed broad support in Hollywood, recent polls show that Israel enjoys significantly less support within the Democratic Party than among its Republican rivals. Kory said that he only wished that pro-Israel sentiment were more prevalent across the ranks of the Democratic Party at large.
“What Israel really represents is a liberal cause,” noted Kory. “It’s the sole democracy in the area, one that protects the rights of minorities, women, gays and others. It has Arabs in the Knesset and a free press. Israel represents every liberal cause espoused by democracies,” he went on to say.
“It’s unfortunate for the Democratic Party that they don’t see Israel in this light anymore, when Israel is in fact the sole beacon of liberal democratic values in the Middle East.”