Is there an issue that some Hollywood star -- director,
producer, actor, actress -- has not publicly commented on? It's hard to name
Producer, director Rob Reiner has devoted years to imposing
onerous taxes on poor people who smoke and to putting perhaps half of
California's cigar and pipe stores out of business. Barbra Streisand has
devoted yeoman efforts to promoting leftist causes (sometimes with malice,
as in her recent letter to House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt in which she
writes that " . . . industries, run by big Republican donors and insiders,
clearly have much to gain if we go to war against Iraq"). Ed Asner has
devoted much of his life to defending leftist tyrannies.
Almost everyone in Hollywood has signed on to anything promoting
gun control, higher taxes, saving whales and undoing global warming, while
various actresses have posed nude to protest the wearing of fur. The list of
stars and causes is almost endless.
There is one issue, however, about which one hears nothing from
Hollywood: the terror against Israeli citizens. Far more has been said by
Hollywood against potential threats to endangered insect or bird species
than against actual attempts to render Israeli Jews an endangered species.
As one Hollywood insider, screenwriter Dan Gordon ("The
Hurricane," "Murder in the First"), told the Los Angeles Times: "There's
been a puzzling silence. We're in an industry that takes stands on
everything. People can't shut us up! I'd love to see the indignation about
homicide bombers that is reserved for smokers. You smoke in this town, and
you're dead. Rob Reiner will come after you."
Let it be said loudly and clearly that this silence will be a
long-lasting stain on Hollywood's moral record. The Palestinian/Islamic/Arab
war to destroy Israel is the moral test of our time. If you are silent on
this issue, you are either morally confused, immoral or lack courage.
In the case of Hollywood's silence, the first and third are the
more likely reasons.
First, the confusion. In an article on the silence of the Jews
in Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times quotes writer-director Michael Tolkin,
author of "The Player" and "Changing Lanes": "Liberals are on the side of
the underdog. The people who've had their cities turned into rubble look
like the underdog."
This is a very revealing statement. Many of us have long argued
that leftists do not ask, "Who is right and who is wrong?" but rather, "Who
is strong and who is weak?" in determining their positions on world and
national issues. The substitution of power criteria for moral criteria is
one of the reasons the left so often takes immoral positions. It is,
therefore, helpful to hear such a candid acknowledgment of Hollywood
liberals' moral confusion. Not to mention ignorance -- no Palestinian city
has been "turned into rubble."
The other reason for Hollywood's silence on the moral litmus
test of our time is lack of courage. Absence of moral courage is in no way
distinctive to Hollywood; indeed, it is the rarest of humanity's good
traits. But one suspects that many in Hollywood pride themselves on having
moral courage, so it is important to set the record straight.
It is sadly illuminating that it takes courage for a Hollywood
insider to publicly support Israel. The Jewish state is, after all, one of
the most enlightened and liberal democracies in the world, and it is
fighting against one of the most morally backward cultures in the world.
With all the prominent Jews in Hollywood, this silence is even
more remarkable, but not surprising. Most of Hollywood's Jews have little or
nothing to do with Jewish causes, Jewish communal life or Judaism. Their
causes are those of the left, their community is largely like-minded
Hollywood folks, and their values come from liberalism, not Judaism.
Moreover, the silence on Israel of Hollywood's most prominent Jews enables
the non-Jewish stars to remain silent. If the Jews don't care about Israel,
why should they?
Ever since I learned that Richard Wagner -- whose music is among
the greatest ever written -- was a racist anti-Semite, I learned that I had
to disassociate artists from their art. So, I never expected anything
morally significant from artists, in Hollywood or anywhere else, and am
therefore not surprised at Hollywood's silence about Israel's suffering. But
it remains a moral failure.