Richard Gere to Haaretz: Settlements Are an Absurd Provocation, the Occupation Is Indefensible

‘Norman’ star had a hard time deciding whether to come to Israel for local premiere: ‘I had people living here who told me, “Look, no good will come of this. The bad guys will use you.”‘ …

“Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone,” he says. “There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal – and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process.” He pauses before adding, “Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”

Gere also met with representatives of the nongovernmental organization Breaking the Silence in New York before his trip, and said he planned to meet with them in Israel as well.

The demonization of the group by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others on the right appalled him, he said, as have the condemnations of J Street by the Trump administration’s new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

“It is all so counter to what I know of Jewish culture,” Gere says. “Questioning authority makes you a kapo? To question authority makes you a traitor? If you question bad policies you are a self-hating Jew? That is insane. And, of course it’s the last resort of tyrants.”

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