Alan MacLeod Investigation Israel

The Israel Files: WikiLeaks Docs Show Top Hollywood Producers Working With Israel To Defend Its War Crimes

The Israel Files is a new MintPress series exploring and highlighting the many revelations about the Israeli occupation of Palestine that WikiLeaks documents disclosed. It hopes to shed light on many of the most important and underreported revelations the publishing group exposed.
Illustration by MintPress News

By Alan MacLeod / MintPress News

As Israel was launching a deadly assault on Gaza, killing thousands of civilians and displacing more than 100,000 people, many of America’s top TV, music and film producers were organizing to protect the apartheid state’s reputation from widespread international condemnation.

Together, the Sony Archive – a cache of emails published by Wikileaks – prove that influential entertainment magnates attempted to whitewash Israeli crimes and present the situation as defending itself from an impending “genocide”, liaised with Israeli military and government officials in order to coordinate their message, attempted to cancel those who spoke out against the injustice, and put financial and social pressure on institutions who hosted artists criticizing the apartheid government’s actions.

AS ISRAEL ATTACKS, HOLLYWOOD PLAYS DEFENSE

“[Israel’s message] Must be repeated ad infinitum until the people get it,” wrote Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, in an email chain to many of Tinsel Town’s most influential executives. This was in response to the unprovoked 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, one of the bloodiest chapters in over half a century of occupation.

Named “Operation Protective Edge”, the Israeli military engaged in seven weeks of near-constant bombing of the densely populated coastal strip. According to the United Nations, over 2,000 people were killed – a quarter of them children. 18,000 houses were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.

The Israeli military deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s only power plant and shutting down its water treatment plants, leading to economic, social and ecological devastation in an area Human Rights Watch has labeled the world’s largest “open air prison”.

Many in Hollywood expressed deep concern. “We must make sure that never happens again”, insisted producer Ron Rotholz. Rotholz, however, was not referring to the death and destruction Israel imposed on Gaza, but to the fact that many of the entertainment world’s biggest stars, including celebrity power couple, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, had condemned Israel’s actions, labeling them tantamount to “genocide.”

“Change must start from the top down. It should be unheard of and unacceptable for any Academy Award-winning actor to call the legitimate armed defense of one’s territory…genocide” he continued, worrying that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a worldwide campaign to put economic pressure on Israel in an attempt to push it to meet its obligations under international law – was gaining steam in the world of the arts. Israel’s legitimacy rests upon political and military support from the U.S. Therefore, maintaining support among the American public is crucial to the long term viability of its settler colonial project.

Rotholz then attempted to organize a silent, worldwide pressure campaign on arts venues and organizations, including the Motion Picture Academy in Hollywood and the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, to stamp out BDS, writing,

What we can do is urge the leaders of major film, TV and theater organisations, festivals, markets and potentially the heads of media corporations to issue official statements condemning any form of cultural or economic boycotts against Israel.”

Others agreed that they had to develop a “game plan” for opposing BDS.

Of course, when influential producers, festivals and heads of media corporations release statements condemning a certain position or practice, this is, in effect, a threat: stop taking these positions or suffer the professional consequences.

LOACH ON THE BRAIN

The Sony emails also reveal a near obsession with British filmmaker and social activist Ken Loach. The celebrated director’s film, “Jimmy’s Hall” had recently been nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and in the wake of Israel’s assault on Gaza, he had publicly called for a cultural and sporting boycott of the apartheid state.

This outraged many in Hollywood. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, a film producing company responsible for financing more than 200 movies, demanded that not only Loach, but the whole Cannes Film Festival be cancelled. “The studios and networks alike must join together and boycott cannes,” he wrote. “If we don’t we are sending a message that another holocaust is fine with Hollywood as long as it is business as usual,” he added, framing the Israeli attack on a near-defenseless civilian population as a Palestinian genocide of Israelis.

Others agreed. Ben Silverman, former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios and producer of shows such as “The Office”, “The Biggest Loser” and Ugly Betty” said that the industry should “boycott the boycotters”. Rotholz, meanwhile, wrote to the head of the Cannes Film Festival, demanding that he take action against Loach for his comments. “There is no place for [Loach’s intolerant and hateful remarks] in the global world of film and filmmakers”, he insisted.

Others came up with another way of countering Loach. “How about we all club together and make a documentary about the rise of new anti-Semitism in Europe,” suggested British film producer Cassian Elwes, adding,

I would be willing to contribute and put time into it if others here would do the same. Between all of us I’m sure we could figure out a way to distribute it and get it into places like Cannes so we could have a response to guys like Loach. Perhaps we try to use it to rally support from film communities in Europe to help us distribute it there”.

“I love it,” replied publishing oligarch Jason Binn, “And I will promote it in a major way to all 3.2 million magazine subscribers across all on and offline platforms. I can even leverage Gilt’s 9 million members,” he added, referring to the shopping and lifestyle website he managed.

“Me too,” said Amy Pascal, the Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Meanwhile, Mark Canton, producer of movies such as “Get Carter”, “Immortals” and “300” busied himself drumming up more Hollywood support for the idea. “Adding Carmi Zlotnik to this growing list”, he replied, referencing the TV executive.

This whole correspondence was from an email chain of dozens of high-powered entertainment figures entitled “Happy New Year. Too bad Germany is now a no travel zone for Jews,” which ludicrously claimed that the European country had become a Muslim-controlled Islamic theocracy.

“It is horrible. But in the end, it is no surprise, because apologists for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians will go to any length to prevent the people opposing them,” Mr. Loach said, when asked for comment by MintPress. “We shouldn’t underestimate the hatred of those who cannot tolerate the idea that Palestinians have human rights, that Palestine is a state; and they have their country,” he added.

SHUTTING DOWN FREE EXPRESSION

The pro-Israel group in Hollywood also put serious pressure on American institutions to crack down on support for Palestinian human rights. Silverman revealed that he had written to Peter Gelb, the general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, in an effort to shut down a performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer”, an opera that tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of an airliner by the Palestine Liberation Front. “I suggest though that we each call him on Monday at his office at the Met and your point about the Met’s donors’ leverage is important,” he advised the other entertainment oligarchs, thereby shining a light on how the powerful move in secret to silence speech they do not approve of, and how they use their financial clout to coerce and strong-arm others into toeing their line. A lot of pressure was necessary, because, as Silverman explained, “as members of the artistic community it is very hard to be pro free speech only some of the time and not all of the time.”

Ultimately, the performance did go ahead, but not without a large and coordinated protest both inside and outside the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, as individuals attempted to shut down the performance, claiming it was “antisemitic.”

LIAISING WITH THE IDF

The email conversations of many of Hollywood’s most influential individuals show that they believe they are on the verge of a worldwide extermination of Jews, and that Israel – and themselves – are the only things standing in the way of this impending fate. As Kavanaugh wrote, “It’s our job to keep another Holocaust from happening. Many of you may think that can’t happen, that is extreme…[but] If you pull newspapers from pre Holocaust it seems eerily close to our world today.”

Rotholz was of a similar opinion, writing that,

It is imperative that leading figures in the LA/NY film, tv, media, digital and theater communities who support a strong and potent Jewish state develop a strategy for liasing with colleagues in London and Europe and also with the creative communities here and in Europe to promote and explain the Israeli cause.”

The Sony Archive emails also show that, not only were Tinsel Town’s top brass coordinating strategies to silence critics of Israel, but that they were also closely liaising with the Israeli government and its military.

Producer George Perez, for example, messaged his colleagues in the chain email to introduce them to an IDF colonel, stating (emphasis added),

Everyone please use this “reply all” list from here on.  I have included Kobi Marom a retired commander in the Israeli army. Kobi was kind enough to give my family and I a jeep tour of the Golan Heights during our June trip to Israel.  He also took us to visit an army base on the border of Israel and Syria, an area which has been in the news lately.  Hard to imagine that the “kids” that we met at the base are most likely engaged in combat with our enemies.”

Seeing as the large majority of those who died were Palestinian civilians, it is unclear whether he considers all Palestinians or just Hamas as enemies of Hollywood. Perez also noted that “Kobi works closely with the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) who are in need of donations,” and advised that Hollywood needed to “dig deep to help in the constant struggle for the survival of Israel.”

Hollywood celebrities, including famed producer Haim Saban and actress Fran Drescher, pose with IDF soldiers at the FIDF Western Region Gala

The group also attempted to recruit Israeli-American movie star Natalie Portman into their ranks. But the Academy Award-winning actress appeared more concerned that her personal details were being shared. “How did I get on this list? Also Ryan Seacrest?” she replied, before directly addressing Kavanaugh, writing,

[C]an you please remove me from this email list? you should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people i don’t know have my personal info. i will have to change my email address now.  thank you”.

While Portman’s open contempt for the group of rabidly pro-Israel producers is notable, more so was Kavanaugh’s response, which revealed how close the connection between the Israeli state and Hollywood is. Kavanaugh wrote back,

Sorry. You are right Jews being slaughtered for their beliefs and Cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important than your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. my deepest apologies…I had lunch yesterday with Israel consulate general who brought J street up to me. He was so perplexed confused and concerned when he heard you supported them that he begged me to connect you two.”

Thus, the leaked emails prove beyond any doubt that both the Israeli government and the IDF liaise with some of the most powerful people in the entertainment world in order to push forward a pro-Israel message and stamp out any deviance from that line.

HIP HOPPERS FOR APARTHEID

While their efforts at recruiting Portman fell flat, one star who responded enthusiastically was hip hop mega producer Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and the brother of Joseph “Rev.Run” Simmons, one third of Run DMC. Simmons has recently been the subject of controversy, after 20 women have come forward, charging him with rape or other sexual misconduct.

The emails reveal that promoting engagement with Israel within the African-American community is one of Simmons’ primary interests. When asked if he had any ideas how to improve Israel’s image, he said, “Simple messaging from non Jews specifically from Muslims promoting peace and Israel’s right to exist…We have resources and the desire to win rather than lose the hearts of young Muslims and Jews.”

What these resources were, he explained,

We have hundreds of collaboration programs between Imams Rabbis and their congregations We have many respected imams who would join former chief rabbi metzker (spelling) rabbi Schneier and non Jews in promoting the Saudi peace plan”.

“Through this campaign we will be helping Israel,” he concluded.

TURNING THE TIDE

Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state.

Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”

Nevertheless, U.S. government support for Israel continues to rise. Between 2019 and 2028, it is scheduled to send nearly $40 billion in aid, almost all of it military, meaning that American taxpayer funds are contributing to Palestinian oppression and displacement.

Loach was even more upbeat on the issue, telling us that those who stand in the way of justice will be judged poorly by history, stating,

The denial of human rights of the Palestinians is one of the great crimes [of the modern era] and Palestinian rights is one of the great causes of last century and this century. We should all support the Palestinians. If you have any care for human rights, there is no question: the Palestinians have to be supported. And these people who oppose them, in the end, will fade away. Because history will show this was a terrible crime. Palestinians suffered ethnic cleansing of their homeland. We have to support the Palestinians, full stop.”

Those people, however, have no intention of “fading away”, and continue to organize on behalf of the Israeli government. Thanks to the leaked documents, those who care about Palestinian self-determination have a clearer understanding of how they operate.

Alan MacLeod
Alan MacLeod

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

11 comments

  1. Oh!… Big surprise!… Really!
    After the initial act of unjust British colonial treachery, way back in the beginning of the 1920’s, and then the 1948 Palestinian (wink-wink exodus) genocidal expulsion – the Palestinian Catastrophe (the Nakba), comes the release of: The Israel Files is a new MintPress series exploring and highlighting the many revelations about the Israeli occupation of Palestine that WikiLeaks documents disclosed.
    It can only be a surprise to anyone alive today who hasn’t been paying attention to the details of the long ongoing Israeli deceptions.
    ““[Israel’s message] Must be repeated ad infinitum until the people get it,” wrote Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, in an email chain to many of Tinsel Town’s most influential executives.”
    Like all those with their eyes continually wide shut, Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, has learned from the best of the worst, Joseph Goebbels; the process has worked to great effect for Israel, just as it did for ‘National Socialist Germany’ in time gone by.
    Personally, after too many years of having been force-fed the constant Israeli drivel of the second coming of another holocaust, this article, as full of truths, as it is, is just too much; it is the straw that breaks this camels back!
    The attempt to constantly digest endless generational, regurgitated “bubbe meisse”, finally sticks in the craw, and prevents the swallowing, the whole of it.
    And this, while the worlds most iconic publisher and journalist, Julian Assange, is being murdered in front of our eyes, as we impotently look on???
    When historical trauma becomes mass paranoia, problems of mass cultural conduct arise!
    Apparently, Israel has yet to figure this out. It seems it will never learn! They are content to repeat the same play, ad nauseam, especially when there are a few other, more immediately pressing issues for all of humankind going on, in the now!

    1. The real answer to your question, is this: Jewish religious text teaches thus, “By deception thou shall succeed”. Jews everywhere use this in everyday situations, just like “Rise and kill first”. They are all also imbued with the teaching that “They” are “Gods Chosen Ones”, and this is implicitly demonstrated in the manner they present themselves; cocksure and superior. They even think their shite does not stink, but the farts give them away. Palestinians have lost this battle because they kept turning the other cheek, not willing to rise up and demand their God given equal rights; they have relied too heavily and absurdly on the hopes for negotiated peace, by following their God’s laws, and that has ensured their eventual and certain slow motion disappearance as a Nation. The lesson is right there before us all; Jews have shown not the slightest degree of mercy or humane considerations, they take and kill single mindedly to possess what they want; “Every action has it’s own equal reaction” but Palestinians have not reacted equally, they have “absorbed” all the cruelties, and they continue to bury each other, because they are killed at will, their lives a living hell wrapped in a blanket of “Secret evidence”.

      We have one good present example for guidance; the populations of Luhansk and Donbas took up “arms” to defend their rights, fourteen thousand died in the process, but they had right on their side, and a “Good Samaritan” came to their rescue; and now they will survive, re-build and grow. If Palestinians desire a future for themselves, they need to step up and demonstrate their determinations, just as the people of Donbas and Luhansk have demonstrated. Not to drive Jews into the sea, but to establish their independent State on their agreed share of ancient Palestine. This would be the correct outcome; it would also be what most of the World will support.

      Look back in Jewish history. The great Jewish General, Joshua, ethnically cleansed their chosen land of all it’s inhabitants, but it could not last and the Jews were eventually cleared out of it. Now, the Jews are doing exactly the same thing in Palestine, hoping for a different outcome. Let the resistance be full and “Whole hearted”, and the Jewish God will not save them from the virtue of this cause.

      God moves in mysterious ways, but he does move, just ask General Joshua.

  2. It’s not surprising that Hollywood, a Jewish dominated industry since it’s inception, and comprised of a generation of people with links to the Holocaust, will not only support Israel without question, but believe that it is a victim rather than a powerful aggressor. As WW2 moves further into history, and independent journalists document the oppression of the Palestinian people, public opinion will begin to change regardless of propaganda efforts.

  3. It’s about time that people realize the “Real Isreal” that is such a Fashist State, with our government backing them as they kill and jail Palestinians for trying to defend their land and homes. The US even supplied them with Nuclear bombs!!!! It’s about time that we, the people, stop accepting the actions of this Fashist State.

  4. There are 3 sectors in which Jews (Ashkenazim are the most visible) are over-represented compared to their numbers in the US population. Entertainment is one. The other two are news media, and decision-making in federal government.

    We can see here what happens when members of a clannish, paranoid society with lots of money and institutional power act to protect themselves from threats to the privilege to which they are addicted.

    Like other addicts, they are unlikely to clean up by themselves.

  5. It’s frankly a little embarrassing to see the lengths that Americans will go to ignore the CIA’s and Mossad’s merging interests…. Just as an example, Jeff Epstein’s “”Lolita Express” was running the same “honey trap” hustle that Hoover did, back in the days when cheating on spouses was startling enough to bruise entertainment careers, or end a political ones.

    These days, even gay love dares to speak it’s name, and kiddie diddlers are the sole vulnerable targets of pressure points…. Did you see the way celebs were squirming when Ricky Gervais, brought up their pal Jeff at the Golden Globes?

    Epstein sported the ligature marks of an asshole making the bold fashion statement of hanging himself upside-down; yet we happily accept a coroner’s suicide conclusion…”Move it along folks, nothing to see here.”

    Democracy’s a splendid idea, but it doesn’t run on auto-pilot.

  6. Correction: The target of the Palestinians in the opera, The Death of Klinghoffer” is a cruise ship, NOT an airliner. The opera is a “fictionalized account of the infamous Achille Lauro incident of 1985, in which Palestinian terrorists boarded an Italian cruise ship,”

  7. It’s frankly a little embarrassing to see the lengths that Americans will go to ignore the CIA’s and Mossad’s merging interests…. Just as an example, Jeff Epstein’s “”Lolita Express” was running the same “honey trap” hustle that Hoover did, back in the days when cheating on spouses was startling enough to bruise entertainment careers, or end a political ones.

    These days, even gay love dares to speak it’s name, and kiddie diddlers are nearly the sole vulnerable targets of pressure points…. Did you see the way celebs were squirming when Ricky Gervais, brought up their pal Jeff at the Golden Globes?

    Epstein sported the ligature marks of an asshole making the bold fashion statement of hanging himself upside-down; yet we happily accept a coroner’s suicide conclusion…”Move it along folks, nothing to see here.”

    Democracy’s a splendid notion, but it doesn’t run on auto-pilot.

  8. Exodus polluted so many minds and most Americans bought it hook line and sinker! Paul Newman as the “New” Jew! Ben Hecht was a rabid Israel Firster and his propaganda led the way! Hollywood westerns have done even more to make the USA into a Gun Culture through macho man John Wayne! US soldiers over seas in WW2 laughed and booed him off the stage when he was on a USO tour because he was dressed as a fake tough guy, the kids today would call him a poser! Supreme court Brandies had his hands all over pro Israel power and persuasion. All able to hide behind weaponized Anti-Semitism.

  9. This video is excellent unbiased and factual reporting of Israeli crimes; if President Putin’s war in Ukraine offends your senses, in only two months of action, then the Jewish crimes for fifty years plus against Palestinians should make your blood boil with rage; if not, it means that Palestinians might just as well be invisible, because we just will not “see” them? Please send this link to as many as possible, it may help release Palestinians from this imposed Jewish “Holocaust”. The number of Palestinians evicted from their home land, to live outside Palestine, is about six million; the whole world feels sympathy and pity for the “alleged” six million Jews; but why does this consideration not also extend to the whole totally innocent Palestinian Nation, whose total displaced and imprisoned number more than ten million? Justice demands that we speak up! Regards, Thomas.

    https://youtu.be/LumgWaM72nU

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