Javier Bardem has now joined Penelope Cruz in attempting to clarify his position on the crisis in Gaza and Israel. Several entertainment figures including Bardem, Cruz and Pedro Almodovar had released a letter earlier this week describing Israel’s actions as genocide, but were met with charges that their statement amounted to anti-Semitism.
Bardem now says that though he was critical of the Israel military response, he has “great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses.”
On Tuesday, Cruz issued a statement saying she was “aware of the complexity of the situation.” The situation in Gaza is a tricky one for the entertainment business to navigate. While many celebrities are quick to decry the violence in Gaza, they now find themselves pitted against those who have long supported Israel. While a few entertainers such as Joan Rivers, Howard Stern, Bill Maher — and Israeli actress Gal Gadot — have spoken strongly in favor of Israel since the conflict began in early July, other previous Israel supporters have felt that it is more difficult to decide which side is in the right in the current situation.
A video and photo project in support of Palestinian rights released Monday with the #Gazanames label attracted support from figures including Jewish American actor Mandy Patinkin, Tony Kushner, Jonathan Demme, Gloria Steinem, Wallace Shawn and Brian Eno. The project was co-produced by the Jewish Voice for Peace organization.
Bardem’s complete statement is as follows:
PLEA FOR PEACE
This week, along with a number of artists in my home country of Spain, I spoke out about the conflict in Gaza urging all governments to intervene in this escalating crisis. My signature was solely meant as a plea for peace. Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction.
While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have 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.
I was raised to be against any act of violence, and the consequent suffering of humanity for it, regardless of religions, ethnicities and borders. Too many innocent Palestinian mothers have lost their children to this conflict. Too many innocent Israeli mothers share the same grief. There should not be any political reason that can justify such enormous pain on both sides. It’s my hope that leaders involved in this complicated struggle will heed the call of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “In the name of humanity, the violence must stop.”
Palestinians and Israelis in the region deserve to have their safety and human rights recognized and respected so in the near future they may find peace and coexistence, for themselves and their innocent children. So generations to come could bring hope, forgiveness and compassion for each other. This is the most basic and necessary way to peace for all of us.