Jon Voight, the Oscar-winning actor and father of actress Angelina Jolie, says he is “heartsick” about two fellow Academy Award winners who denounce Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocide.”
“I am more than angry,” Voight writes in a guest column published in The Hollywood Reporter. “I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javiar Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.”
Voight penned the column in support of Israel’s offensive against the terrorist group Hamas in response to an open letter signed by Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”‘), and other prominent figures in the Spanish film industry. That letter demanded the European Union “condemn the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”
Voight, 75, who rose to movie stardom in 1969’s “Midnight Cowboy,” emerged in recent years as one of Hollywood’s most outspoken conservatives — including on issues involving the Jewish people. In 2010, he wrote a letter to President Obama accusing him of being the first U.S. president who “lied” to the Israeli and American people.
Providing Cruz and Bardem and the other signers with a brief history lesson, Voight writes in his commentary published Saturday that they are “obviously ignorant” of Israel’s founding. He then reminds the couple of the repression in other Middle Eastern nations and the freedom they had to succeed in America:
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.
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Voight concludes: “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.”
Cruz and Bardem issued statements seeking to clarify their stance on the conflict, saying their signatures were “solely” meant as pleas for peace. Bardem said:
I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife [Cruz] — 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.
Cruz added: “My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza.”