WikiLeaks reveals Hollywood producers help conceal Israeli war crimes
The "Israel" Files, a new MintPress series, explores and highlights revelations regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which WikiLeaks documents have disclosed.
As "Israel" was unleashing its latest aggression on Gaza, killing thousands of civilians and displacing over 100,000 people, many of America's greatest television, music, and film creators banded together in an attempt to safeguard the reputation of the Israeli occupation from massive international censure.
Together, the Sony Archive - a trove of emails disclosed by Wikileaks - demonstrates that powerful industry magnates attempted to whitewash Israeli crimes, and how? By portraying the scenario as "Israel" protecting itself from approaching "genocide", while liaising with the Israeli military and government officials to make sure that their message is coordinated to avoid confusion and trying to cancel whosoever spoke out against the injustice. This, of course, entailed exerting financial and social pressure on organizations that featured artists who criticized "Israel's" conduct.
"Israel attacks", Hollywood defends
“[Israel’s message] Must be repeated ad infinitum until the people get it,” wrote Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, in an email chain to many of Tinsel Town’s most influential executives. The statement was in response to the unprovoked Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014, which is considered one of the bloodiest in over half a century of occupation.
“Operation Protective Edge” is an operation referring to the Israeli military near-constant bombing of the densely populated coastal strip. Over 2,000 people were killed – a quarter of them children; 18,000 houses were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless, the United Nations reported.
The "Israel" Files wrote that the Israeli occupation forces deliberately attacked civilian infrastructure, destroying Gaza's only power plant and shutting down its water treatment plants and causing economic, social, and ecological destruction in what the Human Rights Watch calls the world's largest "open-air prison."
Many in Hollywood expressed deep concern. “We must make sure that never happens again," insisted producer Ron Rotholz. But don't jump to conclusions. Rotholz was not referring to the death and destruction that "Israel" inflicted on Gaza, but to the fact that many of the world's biggest celebrities, including Hollywood power couple Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, had condemned "Israel's" conduct as "genocide", the MintPress continued.
“Change must start from the top down. It should be unheard of and unacceptable for any Academy Award-winning actor to call the legitimate armed defense of one’s territory…genocide,” he audaciously continued to say, expressing concern that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was gaining steam in the world of the arts.
And because "Israel" is based on US political and military support, sustaining public support for its settler colonial agenda is critical to its long-term existence, said the "Israel" Files.
Rotholz then attempted to create a silent global pressure campaign against arts venues and organizations, including the Motion Picture Academy in Hollywood and the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, to eradicate BDS.
He wrote, "What we can do is urge the leaders of major film, TV and theater organizations, festivals, markets and potentially the heads of media corporations to issue official statements condemning any form of cultural or economic boycotts against Israel.”
Others agreed that they had to develop a “game plan” for opposing BDS.
Of course, when powerful producers, festivals, and presidents of media corporations issue statements criticizing a particular attitude or practice, it is effectively a threat: stop taking these positions or face professional consequences.
Sony vs. Loach in Hollywood
The Sony emails also suggest a near infatuation with Ken Loach, a British director and social activist. "Jimmy's Hall," the acclaimed director's film, had recently been nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and in the aftermath of "Israel's" aggression on Gaza, he publicly advocated for a cultural and sporting boycott of the "apartheid state".
The report explained that many people in Hollywood were outraged by this. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, a film production corporation responsible for funding over 200 films, urged that not only Loach but the entire Cannes Film Festival be canceled. “The studios and networks alike must join together and boycott Cannes,” he wrote.
“If we don’t we are sending a message that another holocaust is fine with Hollywood as long as it is business as usual,” he added, depicting the Israeli attack on a defenseless civilian population as a Palestinian genocide of Israelis.
Others agreed. Ben Silverman, former NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios co-chairman and producer of shows such as "The Office," "The Biggest Loser," and "Ugly Betty," suggested that the industry should "boycott the boycotters."
Meanwhile, Rotholz wrote to the Cannes Film Festival's director, pleading with him to take action against Loach for his comments. "[Loach's] prejudiced and racist sentiments have no place in the global world of film and filmmakers," he insisted.
There were different ideas on how to counter Loach. “How about we all club together and make a documentary about the rise of new anti-Semitism in Europe,” suggested British film producer Cassian Elwes.
Elwes said he would be willing to contribute to be able to reach festivals like Cannes "to respond to guys like Loach," intending to initiate a rally support from the film industry in Europe.
In support of his plans, publishing oligarch Jason Binn suggested promoting it to 3.2 million magazine subscribers across all platforms, and the Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amy Pascal, agreed.
This entire email chain was from a "Happy New Year" email chain comprising dozens of high-powered entertainment people. "Too bad Germany is becoming a no-go zone for Jews," which asserted ludicrously that the European country had become a Muslim-controlled Islamic theocracy.
“It is horrible. But in the end, it is no surprise, because apologists for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians will go to any length to prevent the people opposing them,” Loach said when asked for comment by MintPress. “We shouldn’t underestimate the hatred of those who cannot tolerate the idea that Palestinians have human rights, that Palestine is a state; and they have their country,” he added.
The pro-"Israel" lobby in Hollywood also exerted significant pressure on American institutions to restrict support for Palestinian human rights. Silverman revealed that he had written to Peter Gelb, the general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, in an attempt to halt production of "The Death of Klinghoffer," an opera that portrays the narrative of the Palestine Liberation Front's 1985 hijacking of an airplane, as per the disclosed files.
“I suggest though that we each call him on Monday at his office at the Met and your point about the Met’s donors’ leverage is important,” he advised the other entertainment oligarchs, thereby shining a light on how the powerful move in secret to silence speech they do not approve of and how they use their financial clout to coerce and strong-arm others into toeing their line.
A lot of pressure was necessary, according to them, because, as Silverman explained, “as members of the artistic community it is very hard to be pro-free speech only some of the time and not all of the time.”
The performance eventually went through, but not without a loud and planned protest both inside and outside the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, as individuals attempted to shut it down using the "anti-Semitism" victim card.
Cooperating with IOF
The report mentioned that leading figures in the LA/NY film, television, media, digital, and theater communities who support a so-called strong "Jewish state" "must devise a strategy for communicating with colleagues in London and Europe, as well as the creative communities here and in Europe, to promote and explain the Israeli cause."
The Sony Archive emails also demonstrate that not only were Hollywood's top brass discussing measures to quiet "Israel's" opponents, but they were also in close contact with the Israeli government and military.
In the chain email, producer George Perez, for example, messaged his colleagues to present them to an IOF colonel, stating, "Everyone please use this “reply all” list from here on. I have included Kobi Marom a retired commander in the Israeli army. Kobi was kind enough to give my family and I a jeep tour of the Golan Heights during our June trip to Israel. He also took us to visit an army base on the border of Israel and Syria, an area that has been in the news lately. Hard to imagine that the kids that we met at the base are most likely engaged in combat with our enemies.”
It is worth emphasizing that the majority of those who died were Palestinian civilians.
Perez also noted that “Kobi works closely with the Friends of the Israeli Security Forces who are in need of donations,” and advised that Hollywood needed to “dig deep to help in the constant struggle for the survival of Israel.”
The report mentioned that the group also attempted to recruit Israeli-American movie star Natalie Portman into their ranks. But the Academy Award-winning actress appeared more concerned that her details were being shared. “How did I get on this list? Also Ryan Seacrest?” she replied, before directly addressing Kavanaugh, writing, "Can you please remove me from this email list? You should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people I don’t know have my info. I will have to change my email address now. Thank you”.
While Portman's blatant disrespect for the group of fervently pro-"Israel" producers is noteworthy, Kavanaugh's answer is much more so, revealing how close the Israeli occupation and Hollywood are.
Kavanaugh wrote back, "Sorry. You are right Jews are being slaughtered for their beliefs and Cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important than your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. My deepest apologies… I had lunch yesterday with the Israel consulate general who brought J street up to me. He was so perplexed confused and concerned when he heard you supported them that he begged me to connect you two.”
In addition, the report mentioned that the leaked emails prove beyond any doubt that both the Israeli government and the IOF are cooperating with some of the most powerful people in the entertainment world to push forward a "pro-Israel" message and stamp out any deviance from that line.
Hip Hop for apartheid
According to the report, while their efforts to recruit Portman were futile, hip hop mega-producer Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and brother of Joseph "Rev.Run" Simmons, one-third of Run DMC, replied enthusiastically. The report noted that Simmons has recently been the subject of controversy, after 20 women have come forward, charging him with rape or other sexual misconduct.
One of Simmons' main objectives is encouraging African-Americans to engage with "Israel", according to the emails. When asked if he had any ideas on how to improve the Israeli image, he said, “Simple messaging from non-Jews specifically from Muslims promoting peace and the Israeli right to exist…We have resources and the desire to win rather than lose the hearts of young Muslims and Jews.”
He explained the process by saying, "We have hundreds of collaboration programs between Imams Rabbis and their congregations. We have many respected imams who would join former chief rabbi Metzker (spelling) rabbi Schneier and non-Jews in promoting the Saudi peace plan."
“Through this campaign, we will be helping Israel,” he concluded.
The people awaken
Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, American public opinion has begun to tilt against "Israel" in recent years. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to identify with the Palestinian people and favor the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Much of this is due to the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking down boundaries to expose injustices perpetrated by their government.
Americans today are seeing first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As a veteran political scientist, Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial US participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”
Nonetheless, US official backing for "Israel" is increasing. It is planned to give about $40 billion in aid between 2019 and 2028, almost all of it military, implying that American taxpayer monies are helping with Palestinian persecution and displacement.
Moreover, Loach was even more motivated on the issue, telling us that those who stand in the way of justice will be judged poorly by history, stating: "The denial of human rights of the Palestinians is one of the great crimes [of the modern era] and Palestinian rights is one of the great causes of last century and this century. We should all support the Palestinians. If you have any care for human rights, there is no question: the Palestinians have to be supported. And these people who oppose them, in the end, will fade away. Because history will show this was a terrible crime. Palestinians suffered ethnic cleansing of their homeland. We have to support the Palestinians, full stop.”
Those supporters will continue to support the Israeli occupation, with no intention of fading away. However, the leaked emails are guiding ones in support of Palestine to understand how such groups and organizations function.