Dear Ryan Kavanaugh: Thank you
Last week, Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh became the first major Hollywood executive to publicly oppose a letter condemning Israel signed by Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. “It makes my blood boil,” Kavanaugh told The Hollywood Reporter. “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, anyone calling it Israeli 'genocide' vs. protecting themselves are either the most ignorant people about the situation and shouldn't be commenting, or are truly anti-Semitic.”
Dear Mr Kavanaugh,
I am writing to thank you for being a lone voice in an overwhelming and deafening sea of silence. I am 26 years old and currently based in London, having recently graduated from LAMDA*. I am American. I am Jewish.
The past few weeks have been some of the most trying and isolating I have ever experienced. In the arts world especially, I feel as though I am on an island of one, as any voice of support for Israel is met with accusations of war mongering, genocide and disgust.
My parents raised me to always use my voice.
I don't understand why so many titans whose voices could be heard around the world refuse to use theirs.
At a time when Jewish businesses are being fire-bombed in Paris, when Jewish families in Amsterdam have had to remove mezuzahs from their doors for fear of being attacked, and when Jewish storefronts in Rome are being vandalized with swastikas and tags such as “Jew your end is near,” I can't help but fear for the future.
What example are we setting?
What legacy are we leaving?
Israel is fighting for her survival in a unique moment of absolute moral clarity, and some of the most accomplished and successful artists in the world have labeled this genocide. Where is the overwhelming disgust? Where is the backlash? At best, where is the education?
Here in London, a friend returned home yesterday to a swastika painted on her door. Another woman was surrounded and verbally and physically assaulted by a violent gang on Oxford Street (a major shopping street in central London) after being identified as a Jew. As I type to you, the ISIS flag is hanging from a government funded housing estate bordering Canary Wharf (the financial centre of London).
Artists are being persecuted as well. The UK Jewish Film Festival was banned from The Tricycle Theatre, its home of the past 8 years, after first refusing to allow its films to be pre-screened and potentially censored and then refusing to return the funding of the Israeli Embassy (a known sponsor of the past 17 years), and formally cut all ties to Israel. (It is important to note this is the first time the theatre has ever made such a demand or instituted any policy regarding government funding. The policy is also exclusive to funding from the government of Israel. The theatre is in fact heavily funded by the government of Britain.) Just north of London, at the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival, two shows from Israel were kicked out of their theaters and are no longer part of the festival.
And this is in London, where the Blitz not 80 years ago destroyed over one million homes and killed over 40,000 civilians.
It is on these very streets that had to be re-paved and rebuilt where weekly, protesters shouting “From the river to sea, Palestine will be free” stand a few hundred yards from my flat.
Surely these people would understand something about being constantly bombed by terrorists?! Instead there is a call for the total destruction of the State of Israel. One English MP labelled his county, an “Israel free zone” and demanded a boycott against all goods, services, academics and tourists from Israel. Israel, a democratic multi cultural and inclusive society wherein an Arab citizen serves on the Supreme Court. (Is a single Jew even allowed to live in Gaza?)
A doctor in Belgium who refused to treat an elderly Jewish patient citing the situation in Gaza continues to practice, free of reproach or consequence. An Imam in Germany who called for the annihilation of the Jews continues to spew his murderous hate speech, free of reproach or consequence. A pop star in Turkey who tweeted, “May G-d bless Hitler.” not only continues to publish her anti semitic filth, free of reproach or consequence, but was publicly applauded by the Mayor of Turkey's capital city.
Where is the outcry?
After the dust of World War II settled, the civilized world made a promise- Never Again. Last week, the Bergische Synagogue in Germany, previously destroyed during Kristallnacht, was set ablaze from three molotov cocktails. I am now asking for those with a voice, especially within the entertainment industry, to stand up for that promise.
The blatant double and ultimately suicidal standard by which Israel is being judged is not a reasonable critique of a military situation; it is in fact a thinly veiled anti semitic assault perpetrated by the likes of Jimmy Carter and Navi Pillay and echoed by throngs of ignorants around the globe to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state. These extraordinary standards to which no other country in history have been held are part of a larger movement that is unearthing and harnessing the virulent, deep seated and devastating tides of victriolic hatred that too often seem to percolate just beneath the surface against the Jewish people. In my lifetime the tide has never been stronger.
Israel is fighting for her survival, and she needs your support, you in Hollywood whose voices cut across oceans.
Israel is on the front lines of a campaign against Radical Islam, the same Radicals who are beheading children and slaughtering thousands of Christians in Iraq, and she needs your support, you in Hollywood whose voices cut across oceans.
Jews around the world who are being assaulted and maligned need your support, you in Hollywood whose voices cut across oceans.
Mr Kavanaugh, thank you for cutting across oceans, for not only cutting across, but for leading by example.
As I stare at the sea of articles posted by fellow actor “friends” on Facebook, all riddled with mis-truths vilifying Israel, and hear the faint cries of a “peaceful” protest rejecting Israel's right to exist through my cracked window, I cannot begin to articulate how much I appreciate your public and definite stance both supporting Israel and condemning the horrific and dangerously false accusations towards Israel by certain celebrities.
And for a brief moment, six thousand miles away, I don't feel so completely alone.
You are leading the charge in Hollywood for someone to take a stand at a watershed moment when good must triumph over evil, when civilization must triumph over barbarism, and when the sons of light must prevail over the sons of darkness.
I implore you, encourage your friends to do the same. Help cut across oceans.
For if not now, when?
Respectfully and thankfully yours,
Los Angeles native Taube Brahms is now a London-based actress/singer-songwriter. She was formerly an undergraduate fellow with the Foundation for Defense with Democracies and a White House intern.
*The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art