Oscar Nominees Receive Invitations to Palestine
For immediate release on
February 26, 2016
Yasmin Hamidi: firstname.lastname@example.org, 917-860-6828
Karmah Elmusa: email@example.com, 202-341-9500
Top Oscar Nominees Receive Invitation to Visit Palestine, Experience Life Under Israeli Apartheid and Military Occupation
Invitations Delivered to Nominees’ Reps Today Via Email
Oscar nominees in the top acting and directing categories as well as host Chris Rock received invitations from a coalition of groups to visit Palestine and experience life through the eyes of Palestinians living under apartheid and military occupation. The invites were sent today from Brian Eno on behalf of Artists for Palestine UK, the Palestinian Performing Arts Network, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
The invitations were delivered to their reps via email, providing a satirical alternative to the trips being offered by the Israeli government in swag bags being distributed to the nominees, who include Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlotte Rampling, Saoirse Ronan, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo, Mark Rylance, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rooney Mara, Rachel McAdams, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet, Adam McKay, George Miller, Alejandro Iñárritu, Lenny Abrahamson, and Tom McCarthy.
Rylance has already pledged to accept neither professional invitations to Israel nor funding from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Asif Kapadia, whose film “Amy” is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, has also signed the pledge, as have five-time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh and other members of Artists for Palestine UK, including director Ken Loach and musician Brian Eno.
“Our hope is that other artists will follow suit and take a stand for Palestinian human rights, as so many cultural figures did in the struggle against South African apartheid,” wrote Eno in a commentary that appears on Salon today.
The email to nominees’ reps reads, in part:
As we all know, Palestinians have endured decades of military occupation and apartheid at the hands of Israel, which has denied them freedom and equality, and the ability to live the lives we all want for ourselves and our children. Israel has been expropriating their land to build settlements in violation of international law, as well as US and EU policy, undermining efforts to reach a just and sustainable peace agreement.
This lavish trip is part of the Israeli government’s attempt to distract from this reality and promote “Brand Israel.” There’s nothing we can do to stop them from trying, but we thought you might be interested to see what a trip through the eyes of a Palestinian could look like…
Redmayne, who is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, previously won the Award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” Hawking lent his support to the Palestinian movement for freedom, justice and equality when he respected their boycott call by declining an invitation to attend an Israeli government-sponsored conference after conferring with his Palestinian academic contacts about their situation.
This invitation to nominees follows the publication of a full-page color ad in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, which urged nominees not to endorse Israeli apartheid by participating in a government-sponsored junket. The same ad made waves earlier in the week after Variety declined to publish it at the last-minute, despite previously publishing a politically-charged ad criticizing the Obama administration for its Israel policies.
These actions are part of an ongoing campaign urging Oscar nominees to #SkipTheTrip being offered by the Israeli government in swag bags distributed by Distinctive Assets, a Los Angeles-based marketing company. As Variety itself reported last week, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is suing Distinctive Assets for copyright infringement after it marketed its swag bags with slogans such as “Everyone Wins at the Oscars! Nominee Gift Bags.” At $55,000, the 10-day luxury trip to Israel is the priciest item in the bag. Other freebies include a “Vampire Breast Lift,” a vaporizer, and a sex-toy, among other things. The trip is being promoted by Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, a vocal proponent of Israel’s illegal settlement project who opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.
A petition launched last week urging nominees to follow the lead of celebrities like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Danny Glover, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Angela Davis, and others who have refused to lend their names to Israel’s past propaganda attempts already has over 10,000 signatures.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP is one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the US, with more than 60 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters.
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a coalition of hundreds of US organizations working to end all forms of US support for Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. We support freedom, justice, and equality for all.