Jon Voight Variety Studio Emmy Awards
Peter Hapak for Variety

Actor calls on 'peers who signed that poison letter' to avoid inciting anti-Semitism

The war raging in the Middle East has divided observers all over the world regarding the actions of Israelis and Palestinians. The entertainment industry is no exception, as a wide range of celebrities have publicized their own opinions. They include Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, who earlier this week signed a letter published in a Spanish newspaper condemning Israel, only to issue statements days later clarifying their own distaste for anti-Semitism. But those actions weren’t enough for veteran actor Jon Voight, a staunch longtime supporter of Israel who penned his thoughts below on this controversial subject.

My name is Jon Voight and I am more than angry. I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem 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, when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921, and the Arab Palestinians were offered the other half.  The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea.  But the Israelis won.  The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973, launching a sneak attack on the holiest Jewish holiday.  Each time the Jews prevailed but not without great loss of life.  And when Israel was not fighting a major war, it was defending itself against terrorist campaigns.

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.

After years of trying to make peace, the wars they had to fight, being attacked by their enemies, and still being attacked, and finally after years of running into bomb shelters and having hundreds of civilians killed by suicide bombers, civilians being killed in their sleep, stabbed to pieces, finding enough is enough and finally retaliating, instead of my peers sticking up for the only democratic country in that region, they go and take out poison letters against them.

You have forgotten how this war started.  Did Hamas not kidnap and kill three young teenagers for the sake of killing, and celebrated after the killing?  What a travesty of justice.

I am asking all my peers who signed that poison letter against Israel to examine their motives.  Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?

You have been able to become famous and have all your monetary gains because you are in a democratic country: America.  Do you think you would have been able to accomplish this in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, et cetera?  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.

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