In the world of make-believe, Spanish actor Javier Bardem is a masterful bad guy. In the movie “No Country for Old Men” he played the role of the psychopathic assassin Anton Chigurhn, and in the James Bond movie “Skyfall” he was repulsive as the deranged character Raoul Silva. Sadly, the talented Bardem is every bit as bad in real life. The week before last, he and his fetching wife, Penelope Cruz, became part of a ditzy group demanding the European Union condemn Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip as “genocide.”
It seems the European actors, joined by some squirrelly director named Pedro Almodovar and others, want the EU to “condemn the bombing by land, sea, and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”
Signed by nearly 100 other actors – as if that makes a rat’s difference to Israeli commanders – the letter also read, “This is a war of occupation and extermination against a whole people without means, confined to a miniscule territory without water and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targeted and presumed to be terrorists.”
Oh, please. Such babble is senseless and actor Jon Voight, who you’ll remember was the “Midnight Cowboy” back in 1969, became so unglued when he heard what the Spanish actors had done, he wrote a rare, first-person rebuttal in last Saturday’s Hollywood Reporter! And – brother – “Badguy Bardem” was scrambling last week after he read this:
* * *
“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.
* * *
Whoa, Nellie! Within 24 hours of Bardem’s bravery the sickening Spaniard realized he was neck-deep in a war he wants no part of. Bardem had a P.R. firm rush a statement to the Hollywood news sheet. ““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,” he wanted all the readers to know, especially any Jewish ones.
“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 co-existence, 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,” he wrote.
Penelope, who is so beautiful her veiled eyes cannot yet see the overwhelming influence Israel has over the entertainment and fashion industries in America that have heretofore lined her tight-fitting Daisy Dukles, also begged forgiveness by feinging stupidity. “I don’t want to be misunderstood on this important subject. I’m not an expert on the situation and I’m aware of the complexity of it.
“My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza,” she said. “I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border.”
Finally, do you really care what Spanish actors have to say about the Middle East? By the same token, I love Voight’s stand for what he believes … strike that, what he knows … is right.