Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem’s controversial open letter on the Israel-Palestine conflict has got them in some hot water – and one of Hollywood’s top CEOs is now weighing in.
Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh became the first major Hollywood executive to offer his opinion to last week’s letter signed by the Spanish power couple that denounced Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip as “genocide.”
“It makes by blood boil,” Kavanaugh told The Hollywood Reporter. “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, anyone calling it Israel ‘genocide’ vs. protecting themselves are either the most ignorant people about the situation, and shouldn’t be commenting, or are truly anti-Semitic.”
The letter in question was a response to the growing conflict in Gaza signed by Bardem, Cruz and a group of Spanish artists urging the European Union to “condemn the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”
Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodovar was among the signers.
In addition to the open letter, Bardem wrote an op-ed in Spain’s El Diario newspaper.
“In the horror happening in Gaza right now there is NO place for distance or neutrality. It’s a war of extermination waged against occupation and to people with no means, confined in a minimum territory, with no water, and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targets and presumed to be terrorist. It’s hard to understand and impossible to justify. And it’s disgraceful that western countries are permitting such genocide,” he wrote.
Both Bardem and Cruz have clarified their positions on Israel, though neither took back their original comments.
Actor Jon Voight also chastised Cruz and Bardem, calling their opinions “ignorant” and “anti-Semitic.”
Kavanaugh is the only Hollywood executive who has spoken out against the two actors.
“I’m extremely disappointed in Hollywood for its silence in the face of their letter,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “They don’t get it. The silence we are witnessing particularly from our industry when Israel faces the most danger of being wiped out that it has faced in our lifetime is akin to the silence when concentration camps started during World War II.”
The studio CEO added that he was not surprised the letter originated in Spain, where he said anti-Semitism is at a place of red alert.
“All those Jews who think another Holocaust couldn’t happen should go visit Spain and many parts of Europe,” Kavanaugh said.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, many studio heads have privately echoed Kavanaugh’s words, saying Cruz and Bardem are “uninformed” and “irresponsible.”
“People are furious about this,” a source told the website.
Kavanaugh, who did not address whether he would work with either Bardem or Cruz in the future, took a shoT at President Barack Obama.
“What’s a real shame is our leader, who is supposed to be the president of the armed forces, isn’t leading and stepping in to help our biggest ally (Israel) but instead is effectively suggesting a solution that ensures the eradication of Israel,” he said. “As a Jew, I’m shocked that other Jews in America and our industry aren’t being more proactive.”
He continued: “It certainly reminds me of the amount of ignorance we have in our business. We are so ready to jump with our opinions without having facts. The fact is the Palestinians fighting in Gaza have made it very clear that they want to kill all of the Jews. Any suggestion that we should allow them to move in as neighbors within a spitting distance of Israel is ignorant and can only be taken as anti-Semitic. That solution would allow the destruction of Israel.”