Celebrities jumping on the pro-BDS bandwagon is nothing new.
In the immediate aftermath of the outbreak of the Hamas-initiated conflict with Israel earlier this year, “open letters” signed by A-Listers and social media posts from stars that denounced the Jewish state for defending itself were aplenty (see here and here).
Even before the May war, such missives that encouraged boycotts of some sort or another garnered significant amounts of media coverage.
For example, when pop singer Lorde canceled a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv in 2017 following pressure from anti-Israel “activists,” her statement announcing the decision and thanking fans for “educating” her was widely disseminated (see here and here).
A couple of weeks later amid criticism at Lorde for caving to pro-BDS voices, a group of famous artists, including John Cusack, Brian Eno, Mark Ruffalo and Viggo Mortensen, added their names to a letter that voiced support for the New Zealand-born performer.
Published in the Guardian, the statement read:
We write in support of Lorde, who made public her decision not to perform in Israel and has now been branded a bigot in a full page advertisement in the Washington Post (Report, 1 January) […] We deplore the bullying tactics being used to defend injustice against Palestinians and to suppress an artist’s freedom of conscience. We support Lorde’s right to take a stand.”
Likewise, when the late physicist and author of the bestselling book A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, pulled out of a conference in Israel in 2013 — a year before 2014’s 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip — citing “advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott,” the international press covered the story in full (examples here and here).
Indeed, according to HonestReporting’s own data, Hawking’s announcement received more than 1,300 media mentions no fewer than 24 hours after it was made public.
Yet, it seems the international media is far more reticent to publish the views of Hollywood’s finest when the shoe is on the other foot; that is, when celebrities sign letters that state their support for Israel.
A case in point was this week when more than 200 stars condemned efforts from BDS proponents to boycott the Tel Aviv International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, known as TLVFest.
Household names such as Mila Kunis, Helen Mirren and Neil Patrick Harris signed the open letter, which was organized by the non-profit organization Creative Communities for Peace, that states:
In Israel, movies have the unique power to bring together Jews, Arabs, and people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds in collaboration under a shared love of the arts, working together towards the common goal of telling their stories, and building bridges of compassion and understanding.”
Given the high profiles of many of the letter’s backers, it is therefore surprising it has not been more widely reported on.
Stats show that in the 24 hours after these famous faces released their letter, it was mentioned in news reports just 61 times.
Reuters, for example, published a piece last year, LGBT+ artists boycott Israeli film festival, that reported on efforts by “more than 130 gay and trans filmmakers” who “pledged to boycott [the] LGBT+ film festival in Tel Aviv” – something the author, Rachel Savage, described as “the latest move in a bitter row between Israel and international pro-Palestinian activists.”
The piece noted individuals including “Turner Prize-winning British artist Charlotte Prodger and French film director Alain Guiraudie” were among those taking part in the boycott of the 2020 festival, which was, in any event, postponed and moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Savage, who covers a range of stories relating to LGBT issues for the wire service, neglected to report on the latest development despite her having covered the initial boycott campaign that was backed by individuals who are arguably far less high profile.
Reuters is just one of many major media outlets that have been suspiciously quiet, apparently not seeing the news value in reporting the opinions of celebrities who do not capitulate to those with anti-Israel agendas.
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