The Occupation Is Indefensible, Settlements Are an “Absurd Provocation” — Richard Gere


Richard Gere during a press conference at the Israeli premiere of the movie “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” in Jerusalem, Mar 9, 2017. (photo: Dan Balilty / AP)

Star of “Norman” had a hard time deciding whether to come to Israel for local premiere: “I had people living here who told me, ‘Look, no good will come of this. The bad guys will use you.’”

By Allison Kaplan Sommer / Haaretz
March 12, 2017

“Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone. There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal — and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process. Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”
— Richard Gere

Richard Gere says his decision to travel to Jerusalem last week for the Israeli premiere of his new film, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” wasn’t easy.

Perched on a bench in the courtyard of the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a sweeping view of Jerusalem behind him, the movie star and human-rights activist told Haaretz that despite the fact he has traveled to the country numerous times in the past, this visit “was more complex than any other time I’ve come here.”

Over the course of a full month, Gere says he debated whether “it would be a good thing” for him to make the trip. With Israel swerving even further to the right in the Trump era, and an increasing tendency by the progressive left to embrace the tactic of boycott to protest Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, many of Gere’s friends and colleagues in both the Israeli and U.S. human-rights communities told him they feared a movie star’s presence in Israel “would be co-opted by a dark government.”

“I had people on all sides — those who have been close friends and people I barely knew — telling me not to come,” he recounts. Even Israelis warned him to think twice. “I had people living here who told me, ‘Look, no good will come of this. The bad guys will use you’ — ‘bad guys’ meaning the policy-makers of this government. It was a complex month of going back and forth: ‘I’m coming … I’m not coming.’”

[Read the full article here . . . ]

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