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Palestinians condemn Hollywood stars' fundraiser for Israeli army

Nov. 10, 2018 4:02 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 13, 2018 3:44 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian people condemned several Hollywood starts who celebrated and raised millions of dollars to fund the Israeli army last week.

The Middle East Eye London-based news outlet reported that the gala was organized on November 1st, by Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, adding that Hollywood stars such as Ashton Kutcher, Gerard Butler and Andy Garcia attended and celebrated the event.

The site added that the gala was praised by Israel and its supporters for raising a record $60 million and bringing together more than 1,200 people.

"A memorandum of understanding signed between Israel and Barack Obama's US administration in 2016 included a record $38bn deal to provide Israel with military assistance over a ten-year period, the largest such pledge in American history."

The event was met with condemnation in Palestine and by Palestinians on social media.

One of the organizers of "The Great March of Return," which takes place every Friday at the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip, Ahmad Abu Artema, told Middle East Eye that "The Israeli army will use these funds to buy more bullets and more bombs, only to kill more civilians."

"The Great March of Return" protests were launched on March 30th by thousands of Palestinian refugees demanding their right of return to their homes.

Abu Artema added to MEE "The Israeli army has killed more than 200 civilians and wounded some 20,000; these people were men, women and children calling for basic human rights. They did not pose any threat to the Israeli army."

"Despite cries of human rights abuses and violations of international law, the voices of Palestinians were nowhere to be heard at the Los Angeles event."

MEE added that attendees at the gala enjoyed a performance by producer and rapper Pharrell Williams, who was recently attacked on social media for asking US President Donald Trump to refrain from playing his song "Happy" at his rallies only to perform it at this fundraiser for the Israeli army.

Abu Artema said "It is difficult to understand how actors and performers, who carry the message of life, can support an army that carries out systematic killings, which contradict the essence of life and art."

"To us, anyone who funds this army has blood on their hands," he added.

For Mahmoud Shobi, a resident of the West Bank city of Nablus, funds from the US government, US taxpayer money and donations from American citizens have only allowed Israel to "intensify its occupation and colonialism."

MEE said that Shobi lost eight family members in 2002 when US-made bulldozers, bought by Israel, demolished his home with his family still inside.

Shobi told MEE that "Israel has used its money and weapons to destroy our homes, our trees, and kill our people."

"It doesn't matter where this money is coming from," Shobi added, "They've labelled us 'terrorists', though we fight for our land. Even in ‘peaceful’ resistance, as we see in Gaza, the protesters are being met with live bullets."

"But as families of martyrs and political prisoners, as people who are facing the occupation, these donations will only empower us to become more resilient."

Farid Taamallah, a political activist based in Ramallah, told MEE that he believes more needs to be done to raise awareness of the situation on the ground by the Palestinians in the West.

Taamallah said "Israel has effective tools to market itself as the only democracy of the Middle East and claim that it holds the same values as the American people, particularly with the Zionist lobby," adding that "They try to show Israel as a victim of Arab and Muslim terror."

"We need to work with Palestinians in the US and Europe to change the narrative. We must be more active in raising awareness of where this money goes."

The activist said that the money raised in Hollywood would undoubtedly be used to further suppress Palestinians, pointing to Israel's Nation-state law passed earlier this year.

"Every American dollar donated to the occupation's state translates into our suffering as a Palestinian people," Taamallah said.
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