OPINION: Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight feud, while Gal Gadot shows Hamas film to Hollywood VIPs

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OPINION: Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight feud, while Gal Gadot shows Hamas film to Hollywood VIPs

Do we really need actors to pick a side in this war?

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight have fallen out over Israel and Gaza
Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight have fallen out over Israel and Gaza

Blame it on the strike! With negotiations between the Hollywood studios and the Screen Actors Guild union still at a stalemate, the stars have had nothing to do as no movies are being made. Hence their preoccupation with Palestine and Israel along with the willingness to share opinions. Saturday 7 October gave them something to think about other than their Peloton, and since then they have been furiously writing letters to various leaders appealing for the hostages to be released, a ceasefire or to free Palestine. Right now these choices matter so much to us – the audience – that it would be better if they said nothing at all.

That we are partly responsible for making stars pick a side cannot be denied. The condemnation on social media for those who have ‘said nothing’ is almost as virulent and hateful as it is for those who have shown their colours, though Miriam Margolyes would probably disagree.

In Hollywood, a letter for the hostages was immediate, with Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Pine, Mayon Bialik, Liev Schreiber, Amy Schumer and Michael Douglas among the 700 celebrities and entertainment executives who showed support for Israel. Of course their allegiance gave us warm feelings, but so far it has been about as useful as a letter to Santa Claus in terms of response. Sadly, in Hollywood mass rescues are confined to the movies.

Another reason to keep Hollywood on mute is because it is distracting. And this week instead of focusing entirely on the plight of the hostages being held in Gaza, we were craning our necks to see the fallout between Angelina Jolie and her father, the actor Jon Voight.

Estranged for many years, Jolie had reconciled with the Ray Donovan star when she split with Brad Pitt, but his days of being the “good grandpa” may well be over, as he publicly castigated his daughter for her views.

The Oscar winner and humanitarian who is also a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) went on Instagram to voice her strong criticism of Israel for its military actions in Gaza, which she called “an open prison”.

In the statement, Jolie also condemned what she described as “the deliberate bombing of a trapped population” and accused global leaders of “complicity in these crimes” with their silence. Finishing with the demand for a humanitarian ceasefire, Jolie’s request was part of a letter to President Biden from Artists4Ceasefire which was signed by 250 celebs, including Ben Affleck, Gigi Hadid and Jessica Chastain. It was this collective, which also includes the Jewish rapper Drake, that Jon Voight criticised on Instagram, where he referred to them as “fools for calling Israel the problem”.

“I’m very disappointed that my daughter, like so many, has no understanding of God’s honour. God’s truths,” said Voight. “This is about destroying the history of God’s land, the Holy Land. The Land of the Jews. This is justice for God’s children of the Holy Land. The Israeli army must protect thy soil, thy people. This is war. It’s not going to be what the left thinks, it can’t be civil now.”

Jon Voight, a passionate defender of Israel, on Chabad Telethon

Voight’s passionate defence of Israel can’t have come as a surprise to Jolie. They may not have been close as family, but the actor has always been an advocate for the Jewish people and a big supporter of Chabad, for whom he appears on Telethons in the US.

His support for Jews began when his own father worked at a country club in Scarsdale owned by German Jews. “They wanted to play golf but weren’t allowed in the clubs,” Voight told Fox News. “They didn’t complain, but instead raised money to buy land, build the club, and because of their ingenuity and vision, my dad had a job. So I knew at a very early age the insanity of antisemitism.”

If grandpa’s history and dad’s allegiance slipped Angelina’s mind, the 7 October atrocities will not have done, but much like worthy Artists for Palestine UK, she and her La La Land allies forgot to include it in their plea to the President.

Of course, we appreciate that actors rely on writers to provide their words, and they have also been on strike, but surely Jolie, the actor/director/humanitarian, could come up with a line that expresses sorrow for the loss of innocents on both sides.

Angelina Jolie as the wife of Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Islamic extremists

But recognising that this is a war against terrorism perpetrated by Hamas is clearly a problem for Jolie and her crew, so for guidance I suggest rewatching A Mighty Heart, the Michael Winterbottom film in which she plays the wife of Jewish American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Islamist militants in Pakistan in 2002. If the barbaric act seems familiar, Jolie might understand what is at stake.

Gal Gadot and Guy Nattiv

That is certainly why Gal Gadot, her husband Yaron Varsano and director Guy Nattiv are hosting a screening of the brutal Hamas atrocities in Los Angeles and New York. They obviously believe that their VIP pals and other influential personalities should see the 47-minute video, provided by the Israeli Defence forces, to fully understand what happened on 7 October.  But surely they know already, and if they do why do they need to see it?

This was necessary in the case of the world’s press as some forgot about the horror within 48 hours, and put Gaza’s grief front of frame. But Hollywood is Gal Gadot’s stomping ground, so why is necessary to convince her friends? To criticise an initiative fronted by Israelis feels wrong, but not as wrong as seeing the words ‘Hamas Terror Attack video from October 7’ as a listing in Deadline magazine.

It looked like the blurb for a new Marvel film, placed as it was above a story on the Persian crime thriller Holy Spider, and to be honest it made me feel sick. To be flagged in the ‘coming soon’ section of any publication or website is totally inappropriate and most definitely wrong. This film that will be seen by Hollywood’s finest shows the brutality of Hamas on 7 October. It shows the hideous moments that changed Israel forever and for that reason I would cancel the A-list invite-only premiere in Hollywood and show the truth to the world instead.

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