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Hollywood to the Holy Land: The Unlikely Celebs Who Have Expressed Their Love of Israel – Algemeiner

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Thursday, August 18th | 21 Av 5782
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Helen Mirren as Golda Meir in “Golda.” Photo: Jasper Wolf.
Pop star Jessie J took to Instagram on Sunday to condemn the recent terrorist attack in Jerusalem, which saw eight people, including five American citizens, injured after a Palestinian gunman from the eastern part of the city opened fire on a busload of people near King David’s Tomb, close to the Western Wall.
Posting to her “stories” on the social media app, the British-born singer said: “Shooting eight Jewish civilians in Jerusalem — leaving two critically injured, including a pregnant woman — is not resistance. It’s terrorism.”
While we at HonestReporting spend most of our time critiquing news outlets, media pundits, and celebrities who are unfairly biased against or demonize the Jewish state, it is always nice to be reminded that many of the world’s most influential people are not chronically anti-Israel.
Here are some of the famous faces that you may not have known are big supporters of Israel.
A hugely successful rap career and a headline-grabbing marriage (and divorce) with reality television titan Kim Kardashian have made Kanye West a household name. But did you know that West was also an ardent supporter of the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalize relations with several Arab countries?
Two years ago, West heaped praise on former US president Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner for his role in brokering the historic agreements, having described Kushner as doing “more for peace in the Middle East than anyone in 30 years.”
In addition, in 2015, West resisted calls from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv for around 25,000 fans. On the same trip, he is said to have visited an Armenian church in Jerusalem’s Old City, and baptized his daughter.
More recently, the star revealed his admiration for Israel’s Kibbutz movement, when he stated his belief that Christians should build similar communities. “Jewish people have this type of circular community … it’s like where they live, and where we need to live, where the grandparents can take care of the kids,” he explained. “It’s better to have a grandparent taking care of the kids than a nanny taking care of kids — hired love. You get what I’m saying? That we move as a community, and as a community, we will not fail.”
His father Gustav might have been a member of the Nazi party, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is proof that sometimes the apple does fall (very) far from the tree. Not only have many of the ex-bodybuilder’s mentors been Jewish, but Schwarzenegger has repeatedly expressed his admiration and fondness for Israel.
In 2011, for example, the “Terminator” actor revealed that the Jewish state was the first country he visited when he became governor of California. He added that one of his first priorities in the role was to sign a bill that called on the state’s pension funds to divest their money from companies that did business in Iran.
Describing himself as a “long-time friend of Israel,” he also said he visited the country on many occasions.
From attending fundraisers held by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces to signing declarations that condemn Gaza’s terrorist rulers Hamas, Schwarzenegger has repeatedly found ways to show his support for Israel and its nine million citizens.
Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren has repeatedly used her platform to defend Israel in the face of coordinated and baseless attacks by the country’s critics.
In 2016, she announced she was a “believer” in Israel during a speech in Jerusalem, lashing out at efforts by BDS campaigners. “I think that art is an incredibly important way of communication,” she said. “The artists of the country are the people you need to communicate with and make a relationship with and learn from and build upon. So I absolutely don’t believe in the boycott, and here I am.”
Mirren, who won an Academy Award for her role as Queen Elizabeth II, has a longstanding affinity for the Jewish state, having spent time living on a Kibbutz in 1967 — “just six months after the Six-Day War” — with her Jewish boyfriend at the time. “After we worked there on the kibbutz, we hitchhiked around Israel and I actually slept on the beach in Eilat, so that was my first experience of Israel and I was very taken by the country and especially by the people at that time,” she reminisced.
Mirren caught some flak earlier this year when it was revealed she had been cast as the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in an upcoming biopic. While the British star said criticism of her casting was “legitimate,” she raised the point that such a precedent could lead to questions over the appropriateness of a Jewish actor playing the role of a non-Jew or of only gay actors playing gay characters. “Is this really a path you want to go down?” Mirren asked.
Known for his role as a struggling boxer turned prodigious pugilist in the Rocky film series, Sylvester Stallone is now a Hollywood icon. Like his pal Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stallone has also campaigned on behalf of Israel’s defense, including supporting a fundraiser for the IDF.
In 2014, he was one of a number of stars to put his name on a letter that condemned Hamas for shooting rockets at Israeli towns and cities, specifically calling out the US-designated terror group’s habit of hiding its weapons arsenal within residential areas of the Gaza Strip.
“Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields,” the petition read.
Although he has made subsequent visits to Israel, Stallone owes a small part of his rise to superstardom to the vast desert landscape that is much of Israel. His 1988 action movie “Rambo III,” which was a huge hit, was shot in Tel Aviv and Eilat, which were used as stand-ins for locations in Afghanistan.
America’s most famous fictional lifeguard, Pamela Anderson, has been vocal in her love of Israel over the years, and even chose to honeymoon in the Holy Land following her marriage to producer Rick Solomon in 2014. Staying at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the couple visited numerous iconic sites, including the Dead Sea.
While the former Playboy model has criticized Israel on occasion, she has also drawn attention to its strong human rights record while advocating for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
While some of Anderson’s compliments for the Jewish state have veered into the unusual, such as her observation that it is a “very vegan country,” she has also called it a “magical” place that is full of people who are “interesting, aware and generous.”
Of course, the above are just a handful of famous individuals who have not shied away from supporting Israel in the face of immense pressure by activists to engage in boycotts.
Importantly, these celebrities should serve as a reminder that Israel is beloved by so many people, even when it is trendy to publicly hate the Jewish state.
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