Palestine as a Political Football Is Separate Issue From Hamas’s Evil Intent: Jewish Expert

‘Hamas’s mission is dead Jews—its charter says dead Jews, not dead Israelis.’
Palestine as a Political Football Is Separate Issue From Hamas’s Evil Intent: Jewish Expert
Israeli army soldiers patrol at an undisclosed position in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon on Oct. 15, 2023. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
Carly Mayberry

As war ravages on in Israel, one Jewish expert is attributing the misguided actions of those protesting for Palestine to an inability to separate Palestine’s political past from the genocidal motive behind Hamas.

Senior Rabbi Steve Leder of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles told The Epoch Times that many judging the conflict—whether inside the Hollywood bubble or outside of it—are “conflating” it, or as he described it, “treating two separate problems as if it’s one challenge” when surmising the situation.

“On the one hand, the reality is that Palestine has been the political football of the Middle East for a century and they deserve better—from Israel and their own Arab neighbors and us—they do.”

But, stated Rabbi Leder, there’s a notable differentiator—a huge “however.”

“That challenge has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with Hamas, October 7, 2023, and Gaza. And when we conflate the two, that’s when people—or more people—take sides.”

“I’m a big advocate in disambiguating these two things,” he added, acknowledging that the issue of Palestine in the Middle East is “complicated, nuanced and a thorny challenge” but the conflation of it creates division.

“Hamas has nothing to do with bettering the lives of Palestinians or the cause of Palestinians’ self-determination,” explained Rabbi Leder. “Hamas’s mission is dead Jews—its charter says dead Jews, not dead Israelis. They don’t care how many Palestinians will die as a result of their mission.”

No Shortage of Celebrity Comments

Since last month’s brutal attack on Israel by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas and subsequent retaliation by the Israeli military, a bevy of Hollywood A-listers have felt the need to speak out about it.

Many have voiced their support for Palestine while others have expressed their solidarity with Israel and shock concerning the barbarism perpetuated by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, which included reports of babies beheaded and children, parents, and grandparents burned to death.

According to a recent exclusive poll on behalf of Newsweek, many celebrities are paying a price for speaking out on their social media platforms in the form of lost followers. This goes whether it comes to saying too much, too little, or saying anything at all.

The survey, done by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, found that of the 1,500 eligible U.S. voters surveyed on Oct. 29, 36 percent said they had unfollowed a celebrity on social media over their opinions on the Israel and Hamas war.

Generation Z is the most likely to unfollow a celebrity according to the poll, as 33 percent of the 18 to 26 age group said they had hit the unfollow button over a comment about the war. That’s while 29 percent of those in the 27 to 42 age group echoed that, compared to 17 percent of the 43 to 58 age group and five percent of the over the 59 age group.

In general, 16 percent of the people surveyed strongly supported famous people voicing their opinions on the war while 10 percent strongly opposed it.

Hollywood’s Support for Israel

Besides publicly voicing his indignation toward his daughter Angelina Jolie and others like her demanding an immediate ceasefire, veteran actor Jon Voight has publicly expressed his undying support for Israel on social media.
“I’m very disappointed that my daughter, like so many, has no understanding of God’s honor, God’s truths. This is about destroying the history of God’s land, the Holy land, the land of the Jews,” said Voight, in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. He titled the post “Truth and Lies.”

“This is justice for God’s children of the Holy Land—Israel, the Israeli Amy must protect thy soil, thy people, this is war. It’s not going to be what the Left thinks. It can’t be civil now. Israel was attacked by inhuman terror on innocent babies, mothers, fathers, grandparents. And you fools call Israel the problem.”

Other stars including Israeli actress Gal Gadot—known for her role in “Wonder Woman”—and Jerry Seinfeld signed an open letter condemning the Hamas attacks in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre.

Weeks later, a group of celebrities also urged President Joe Biden to secure the release of hostages in Gaza.

Many other Tinseltown types, including Kris Jenner, Julia Garner, Sofia Richie, Sara Michelle Gellar, Patrick Schwarzenegger, and Mandy Moore have expressed their sympathy and support for Israel and the civilians caught up in the violence.

Madonna, sharing news coverage of the conflict, wrote on Instagram: “What is happening in Israel is devastating. Watching all these families and especially children being herded, assaulted and murdered in the streets is heartbreaking.”

While Kim Kardashian shared a lengthy statement of support to her Jewish friends and family on her Instagram page on Oct. 11, her sister Kylie Jenner shared a post from Israel education nonprofit education organization StandWithUs.

“Now and always, we stand with the people of Israel,” read a caption under a photo of the Israeli flag.

Still other celebrities, like country music star John Rich, took swipes at America’s Democrat leadership in relation to the conflict. In relation to war breaking out in the Middle East, Rich criticized Biden’s mishandling of America’s oil reserve while comedian Roseanne Barr placed blame on the Democrats’ policy from years back.

Stars Voicing Support for Palestine

Actress Susan Sarandon made the news for supporting Palestine when she attended the recent national march for Palestine in Washington. It’s been deemed the largest protest for Palestine in U.S. history.

The left-wing actress has long made headlines for her participation in various protests over the years. For example, last May she was arrested in New York while protesting about fair wages for tipped service workers. Through the years, she’s also made her views known while taking the podium at various Oscar ceremonies.

This time, she shared a post of the Palestinian Feminist Collective on X.

“You don’t have to be Palestinian to care about what’s happening in Gaza. I stand with Palestine. No one is free until everyone is free.” No mention of the Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel was made.

But Rabbi Leder noted that addressing the attack that happened in Israel with the issue of “occupation“ is problematic.

“When you start hearing people talking about Oct. 7th being related to occupation there’s a problem—there hasn’t been a Jew living in Gaza since 2005,” he said. “Israel gave it back entirely in 2005, and before they gave it back they forcibly removed Israelis and gave Palestinians their own land to be free.”

For her part, Ms. Sarandon has supported Palestine previously, standing behind Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid who publicly accused Israel of “apartheid” in 2021.

“I stand with the Palestinian People fighting against the apartheid government of Netanyahu and pray for the Israeli people that they too, will enjoy peace,” Sarandon posted at the time. “I also support @bellahadid for having the bravery to stand in solidarity with her people. That can be lonely.” Ms. Hadid’s sister Gigi commented on the conflict on Oct. 10: “My thoughts are with all those affected by the unjustifiable tragedy and every day that innocent lives are taken by this conflict—too many of which are children. While I have hopes and dreams for Palestinians, none of them include the harm of a Jewish person.”

No Shortage of Celebs Calling for a Ceasefire

Last month, Ms. Sarandon joined actresses Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain, and Kristen Stewart along with actors Joaquin Phoenix, Channing Tatum, and Andrew Garfield in publicly demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel, saying the lives of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians must be protected. Any mention of Hamas and its campaign of slaughter was not there. The emphasis was placed on the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. More than 3,000 British actors, filmmakers, and artists made a similar demand last month in calling for a ceasefire while refusing to mention Hamas.

During a speech Wednesday at the European Union parliament in Brussels, Blanchett, as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, also pushed for open borders so third-world migrants may freely enter Western countries of their choosing.

Ms. Jolie, a former United Nations refugee agency ambassador, posted to her Instagram page on Oct. 28: “What happened in Israel is an act of terror. But that cannot justify the innocent lives lost in bombing a civilian population in Gaza that has nowhere to go, no access to food or water, no possibility of evacuation, and not even the basic human rights to cross a border to seek refuge.”

Days later the “Maleficent” actress called for a ceasefire, saying that Gaza has been an open-air prison for nearly two decades and is fast becoming a mass grave.

“While the world watches and with the active support of many governments, millions of Palestinian civilians - children, women, families - are being collectively punished and dehumanized, all while being deprived food, medicine and humanitarian aid against international law,” said Ms. Jolie. “By refusing to demand a humanitarian ceasefire and blocking the UN Security Council from imposing one on both parties, world leaders are complicit in these crimes.”

Squad Democrats have also repeatedly called for a ceasefire following the Hamas attacks.

The Perplexing Part of the Left’s Support of Palestine

Those expressing anti-Israel sentiment, taking part in pro-Palestinian marches and demanding ceasefires have routinely been from the Left, which is puzzling because Hamas is adamantly against most of the progressive things the Left stands for.

“Without a doubt, anybody marching for LGBTQ rights would summarily be raped, tortured, murdered and beheaded in Gaza,” said Rabbi Leder, citing this as an example of something the Left commonly champions. “Anybody marching for inclusivity would be summarily executed in Gaza as would anybody advocating religious freedom.”

There’s also a playbook set up by Hamas that they’re feeding into, according to Rabbi Leder.

“The play is Hamas murders innocent Israelis forcing Israel to defend itself by responding at which point Hamas hides behind a blanket of civilians,” explained Rabbi Leder. “Hamas publicizes the body count and frames Israel as the victimizer and frames themselves as the victims.”

Remembering What Gaza Could Have Been

As the world watches Israel retaliate for the Hamas assault, the destruction of lives continues. Palestinians have nowhere to flee while Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorist group continue to hold Israeli hostages. The Israel Defense Forces have put the number of those in captivity at 239.

While the Gaza Strip has been sent billions of dollars in aid in recent years to provide relief to the more than 2 million Palestinians living there, instead those resources were directed to war.

“Gaza, which could have been another Singapore of the Middle East with green fields, solar fields, hotels, desalination, etc. Never ever became what it could have been,” said Rabbi Leder. “Instead, because Hamas’ mission is murdering Jews, Gaza turned into worse than a third-world impoverished state.”

As Hollywood’s original “Wonder Woman,” veteran actress Lynda Carter summed it up on social media recently when she wrote: “Millions of Israelis and Palestinians have worked so hard to end the cycle of violence, only to see it escalate ... Nothing we say, as we sit safely in our homes and far away from the conflict, can really capture how much of a tragedy this is.”

Rabbi Leder emphasized that those in Hollywood and from all over standing outside the war looking at it through an inaccurate lens by not separating Palestine’s conflicted past from the horrific massacre by Hamas in early October.

“When you conflate murder and rape and beheading and dismembering and kidnapping with the other legitimate set of issues that need to be addressed, you begin to obscure the truth of Hamas, Oct. 7th and Gaza,” he said.

As a seasoned journalist and writer, Carly has covered the entertainment and digital media worlds as well as local and national political news and travel and human-interest stories. She has written for Forbes and The Hollywood Reporter. Most recently, she served as a staff writer for Newsweek covering cancel culture stories along with religion and education.
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