Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Celebrities For and Against Israel: Should We Care?

First, I stopped listening to all Pink Floyd music and even went so far as to change the channel when one of their songs came on the radio. Then, following Mick and Keith's concert in Israel, I fell in love with the music of The Rolling Stones all over again. Then my favorite late night TV talking head Jon Stewart broke my heart. But Hillary Clinton promptly put him in his place. And then I tried to defend my favorite singer Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, arguing it was just an alcohol-induced tirade against war in general, but to no avail. But there was Neil Young (the Eddie Vedder of a prior generation?) standing up for Israel, which seemed to counter Eddie's drunken rant.

Eddie Vedder's Tirade on Israel
Eddie Vedder (Photo by Jason Oxenham)

I was then quick to celebrate Bill Maher and Howard Stern for their steadfast support of Israel, but immediately found myself back on the defensive when Hollywood celebrities like Rihanna, Ryan Gosling, Selena Gomez and One Direction's Zayn Malik fired off tweets expressing their love and support for the "Free Palestine" movement. Then, like a Hollywood version of Iron Dome, Jewish celebs Scarlett Johansson, Dr. Ruth and Mayim Bialik fired back with level-headed Pro-Israel tweets. Joan Rivers ripped Selena Gomez as ignorant when TMZ.com ran into her at the airport and asked about the singer's pro-Palestinian tweet. NBA star Dwight Howard promptly removed his anti-Israel tweet, but Israeli pro basketball player Omri Casspi shot off a few quick tweets of his own with facts about the hundreds of Gazan missiles directed at Israel.

One anti-Israel Facebook page listed the many celebrities who have voiced support for Israel. The list, including such names as Adam Sandler, Amare Stoudemire, Annette Bening, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ashton Kutcher (and those are just the A's), appears to be more of a hastily thrown together list of who's who in Hollywood with over three hundred names. Today, it was announced that one hundred Spanish celebs, including Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, have signed on to a petition in support of Gaza in the ongoing crisis with Israel.

Stop the noise! Please. It's enough already! While we all know that the famous among us wield a lot of social influence because of their celebrity status and immense following on social media, they are not well versed on the political situation of the Middle East. Eddie Vedder makes great music, but when he talks about Israel, it's just horrible noise. And as much as I, as a pro-Israel supporter, appreciate when Joan Rivers comes to Israel's defense, I'd much rather see her keeping her comments to the wardrobe fails of Hollywood's stars on the Red Carpet -- and Selena Gomez should stick to whatever it is that she does.

Israeli website Haaretz recently published an Op-Ed asking why most of the pro-Israel leaders in Hollywood and in the music industry have been silent on Israel's right to defend itself during the war with Hamas. Personally, I'd rather they remain quiet, but the "Free Palestine" celebs should keep quiet too. There are enough opinions to go around with all of the politicians, media personalities and religious leaders giving interviews, publishing blogs and ranting on Facebook and Twitter. I can't focus on which celebrity is standing strong with Israel and which celebrity is siding with Hamas. And, truthfully, I've stopped caring.

Eddie Vedder should keep making the awesome music that's made Pearl Jam what it is over the past twenty years. Howard Stern should go back to shocking us on the radio with the schtick that's made you famous and successful. Jon Stewart should aim for a fair and balanced assessment of the situation in the Middle East (not because he's Jewish, but because he's intelligent) and he shouldn't need the former Secretary of State to correct his factual errors.

We, the public, are infatuated with celebrities. We will continue to care who wore it better at the award show, which celebs are dating each other and which magnificent getaway celebs are flocking to on vacation. But when it comes to such a nuanced situation like the one that Israel is currently engaged in, I'm hoping that all of these famous people will just shut their mouths and find something less polarizing to tweet.


Adrienne said...

Bardem and Cruz....right....because the Spanish have really earned the right to the moral high ground vis a vis genocide. I still haven't forgiven them for the Spanish Inquisition and the devastation THAT did to Jewish life and culture!

Rabbi Samuel Press said...

As always, insightful and solid.

George King Junior said...

You said a mouthful thank you Rabbi.

Unknown said...

A noble aspiration and thanks for writing. But, we're in a global entertainment culture where celebrities, athletes and entertainers' opinions are given way too much weight. You've identified an issue that's a symbol of a big issue-thanks for raising it.

Rabbi Hayim Herring

Rabbi Irit Printz said...

excellent piece, Jason. Thank you! I agree we shouldn't care, but, of course, the problem is that too many other people who don't know anything about the situation do care about what they say. (also, kudos on how READABLE it is on my cell phone).

Gary Anderson said...

Zionism has been evil from the beginning, when Herzl devised the plan to uproot the natives as part of Zionist doctrine way back in 1895.

Anonymous said...

191,000+ dead in Syria, that's Arabs killing Arabs, ISIS beheading prisoners (fellow Arabs and Americans like Foley and Sotloff) and the regressive "progressives" are silent.

Socialism has been the cause of the deaths of TENS of MILLIONS of people in the two World Wars (national SOCIALIST Shilter and Soviet SOCIALIST Stalin).

What's "progressive" about siding with people who hijacked 4 passenger planes on 9/11/01?

Anonymous said...

Israel will never last. Muslim killing muslims is to devide and rule from an hidden Israeli agenda. We are being brainwashed every day by a zionist media and there are funding nazi nationalistic parties in Europe cause the 4th generation there of Muslims can't stand the slaughter and the injustice what is happening in Israel the bigges hijack of the 20th century. Israel funding Nazis today. We never hear about the Palestinian Christians who are arabs too fighting along with the Palestinian Muslims because of the cruelties that Israel is doing and creating another war to steal more land. 9/11 is an inside job with the Mossad and the Oil industry. Iran never said that Israel has to be wipped out that was never said and translated by the Israeli lobby's like AIPAC who is in fact owning America and the American Tax payer donating billion of dollars a year. Israel is a cancer creating chaos. Funding Neo Nazi Political Parties in Europe like Geert Wilders who will always put the Koran in a wrong context. Europe was never safe for Jews. The safest places for Jews were Islamic countries and not the European ones. Israel is funding Islamophobia and is even funding IS what does not represent Islam at all. Someone made a comment that muslims can lie to non believers? You should read the talmud saying what you are saying and even saying that non Jews are animals and only Jews are chosen by God. Remember the Inquisition if you have any knowledge of history and where the sefaradi jews went and were safe and well. You have to be incredibel dumb to believe that a religion is preaching hate. Islam forbids killing of civilians, women and children. Suicide bombings are considered as suiside and like all Abrahmic believes it is forbidden and they will never find paradise that all a lie. Nelson Mandela was considered to be a terrorist never forget that and the last country that still was supporting apartheid was Israel. An Hollywood actor can't tell you that whe will risk his carriere look at Mel Gibson who was in fact telling the truth. Jews and Christians friends? Since when is that? Christians has always murdered jews in europe. Herzl is a fake jew. An Askenadzi and those people never were in Israel. Wake up. It's Israeliwood and not Hollywood. Shalom

Anonymous said...

ISIS is made and funded by the Mossad and has nothing to do with Islam.
Zionism is starting a war in propaganda on Islam and people believe what they are saying. Devide and rule and let the others make war for a greater Israel. Someone said that it is allowed to lie occording the Koran. It is in what context you are putting it. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam and only serve the cause of Israel. Do not forget that Israel can't exist without the US cause there are billion of dollars going from the US to Israel. Israel is also funding extreme nazi parties in Europe like for example Geert Wilders one of them. Don't forget that Judaisme had it best time in Islamic countries and not in Christian countries but we know that you are all brainwashed by the Zionist media and her lobby like AIPAC. 9/11 is an inside job. The Mossad and the CIA were involved. Most people know the Koran only from populists creating hate and fear but if you know what Islam is standing for and you will read it fully without putting anything out the context you will never say such words and knows that suicidebombs are not Islamic but patriotic from Palestinians who just wants there lands back. The state of Israel is the biggest hijack of the 20th century and it will never last it's impossible even without a war. What will you do if someone came with a book and says that on that book that house of yours is his cause he is chosen by God to claim it. Don't forget to read the talmud were non Jews are in fact animals and it's written that it's allowed to lie and manipulate animals. Facts! Hitler was funded by the Rothshilds.... Hollywood actors can't comment on this subject cause Hollywood like whole the media is controlled by Zionists. Al Jazeera is not a propaganda machine for Iran but against Iran it is against the Shia so learn to think my American brothers and sisters. You are fighting wars for another country and messing up the world.

Dani said...

Thank you rabbi. However, ryan gosling is not on social media. His Instagram saying free Palestine is fake.

Anonymous said...

What a piss-poor article. Such a piece should always have, and obviously this topic certainly needs both sides weighed / discussed / debated /... you know, smart people talk. But instead of that we get some kid declaring anyone not his side an idiot (or other negatives). Only very, VERY dim people will fall for that. -Ech