Pro-BDS protest
Pro-BDS protestiStock

More than one hundred celebrities, mostly hailing from the film and music industries, signed a letter accusing Israel of “apartheid” and of an “unprecedented and blanket attack on Palestinian human rights defenders.”

Signatories included Richard Gere, Mark Ruffalo, Simon Pegg and Julie Christie.

The statement attacked Israel for banning six Palestinian Arab “human rights organizations” for being linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

It goes on to charge that by banning the “six eminent” organizations in Judea and Samaria, Israel was putting “at risk not just the organizations themselves, but the entire Palestinian civil society and the tens of thousands of Palestinians they serve everyday.”

The signatories of the letter urged “all persons of conscience across the globe to stand with us. We call on the international community to #StandWithThe6 and protect Palestinian human rights defenders.”

One of the signatories, musician Peter Gabriel, in an additional statement said that the six outlawed groups “must be defended.”

“The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which was adopted in 1998 by the UN General Assembly, makes clear that an occupying power with a true commitment to human rights would ‘protect and encourage’ human rights defenders, and ‘not ostracize, harass or silence them.’”

Musician and producer Brian Eno added: “This is beyond cruelty. It’s savagery, barbarism. Israel stands bathed in shame.”

Another signatory, Greek author and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis called for sanctions.

“The decades-long failure of governments to hold Israel to account for its repression of the Palestinians has led to this situation,” Varoufakis said. “The international community must speak out and sanction Israel, now.”

Caroline Turner, director of UK Lawyers for Israel, told the Jewish Chronicle that the letter was misleading.

“Engaging in human rights work does not prevent an NGO from also funding and supporting terrorism,” Turner said. “If these organizations are not linked to the PFLP, they can appeal to the Israeli courts.”

The letter was condemned by pro-Israel activists, including Eve Barlow who tweeted: “The latest bunch of anti-Semitic idiots. Would it be so hard for them to actually fight for Palestinians in an honest way? Of course. That would require not blaming Jews.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)