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Hollywood at War over the War By: Paul Bond
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, September 12, 2002

Richard Gere suggested 11 months ago during a concert at Madison Square Garden that the proper response to 9/11 might be "love, compassion and understanding." The crowd promptly — and rather loudly — booed him off the stage.

Since then, some of Hollywood's elite have been a bit more obvious in their disdain for the war on terrorism.

Case in point: Oliver Stone, Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Ed Asner are some of the signatories of an open letter that calls on all Americans to "resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration."

The lengthy "statement of conscience" is the cornerstone of a coalition calling itself Not in Our Name. Not in Our Name was co-organized by "Bulworth" screenwriter Jeremy Pikser and is primarily an entertainment industry effort lobbying for a quick end to the war on terrorism.

The group's Web site (www.notinourname.net) declares "support for writers, artists, activists and everyone who comes under attack for breaking ranks and having the courage to dissent."

After 9/11, "the mourning had barely begun when the highest leaders of the land unleashed a spirit of revenge," the statement reads. "They put out a simplistic script of 'good vs. evil' that was taken up by a pliant and intimidated media."

Actress Sally Kirkland, director Terry Gilliam and radio personality Casey Kasem have also signed on, as have writers Gore Vidal and Kurt Vonnegut. So have musicians Mos Def, Laurie Anderson, Boots Riley and Steve Earle, the country star who recorded "John Walker's Blues," which is sung from the point of view of John Walker Lindh, the infamous American who fought for the Taliban.

Not in Our Name also condemns Israel, whose "tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of death and destruction" in the disputed territories, the group says.

Underscoring Hollywood's internal struggle with these important political issues is the existence of Peace4Israel, a group that seems diametrically opposed to Asner, Glover, Stone et al. Peace4Israel (www.peace4israel.com) calls on Hollywood to take a stand on Israel's behalf and declare its support for the war on terrorism.

"It is past time for the governments and leaders of all Arab and Muslim nations to recognize -- unconditionally and unequivocally -- the State of Israel," the group says in its petition signed by at least 70 high-profile industry figures, including director Arthur Hiller, producers Mace Neufeld and Lynda Obst, Showtime's Jerry Offsay and Endeavor partners Ariel Emanuel and Rick Rosen.

Writer-producer David Brandes, an organizer of Peace4Israel, explained: "There was a feeling among everybody that Hollywood was not speaking out. Typically, Hollywood has been a liberal voice or no voice at all. Our group cuts across political lines."

That some celebrities don't support the war on terrorism doesn't surprise MPAA chief Jack Valenti. "Not to have one or two or ten to not speak out against it would be a miracle," he said.

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