I was not delighted to read the recent news report about Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Pedro Almodovar calling Israel’s ongoing Gaza Strip initiative a “genocide.”
These are very talented people, especially Almodovar, whose films I like very much. Unfortunately, calling Israel’s operation a genocide smacks to me of ignorance and anti-Semitism. It’s a way of turning around Jews’ experience in the Holocaust to suggest the victims of that era are now the perpetrators of an operation that seeks the extermination of a population, and that’s just not the case.
Full disclosure: I’m Jewish. I have positive feelings for Israel in my blood – my mother raised money for the country when I was an infant – and although I don’t agree with all of its policies, I support its right to exist. I also support the right of celebrities to say any ludicrous thing that comes to their minds, as everyone should have freedom of speech. Sadly, it has become fashionable to single out Israel as a “fascist” or “Nazi”-like state effecting a genocide in the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that Israel’s activities bear no resemblance to the Nazis’ attempt to eradicate Jews in the early part of the last century.
There’s no comparison. I know. I interviewed two Holocaust survivors when I was in seventh grade, and I’ll never forget the horrors they recounted to me. It’s not the same thing. The Nazis were a different animal. They sought the systematic destruction of the Jews, both physically and psychologically. They sought genocide. The two people I interviewed were witnesses.
I don’t believe in violence as a solution to the problems of living in this world. But I also don’t believe in the misuse of words to address political sentiments. Those who argue that Israel is committing genocide should reexamine their claims in light of actual attempts at genocide in recent history – including the Holocaust, the Turkish genocide of Armenians in the early 20th century and the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s. I encourage Cruz, Bardem, Almodovar and others to think further on these events, study them, before making a determination. Hopefully, they’ll come to a more educated conclusion.