Javier Bardem Clarifies Open Letter on Gaza: 'I Have Great Respect for the People of Israel'

2:28 PM PST 07/31/2014 by Erik Hayden
AP Images/Invision
Javier Bardem

The actor, along with Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar, had signed an open letter denouncing Israeli military action in Gaza.

After signing an open letter denouncing Israeli military action in Gaza, Javier Bardem has clarified his position, writing that his endorsement of the letter was a call for peace. 

The open letter, which surfaced in multiple Spanish media outlets earlier this week, was signed by a number of artists, including Penelope CruzPedro Almodovar and Eduardo Noriega. The letter, entitled "Comunicado de la Cultura Contra el Genocidio Palestino," deemed Israel's operation in Gaza to be a "genocide" against Palestinians. 

Bardem, through his representative, released a four-paragraph statement on Thursday. "While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses," the actor wrote. "I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife — which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war."

The actor's remarks mirror comments made by Cruz in a statement on Wednesday; the actress wrote, "My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease-fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border."

In addition to signing the open letter, Bardem wrote an op-ed published on July 25 by Spain's El Diario newspaper. "In the horror happening in Gaza right now there is NO place for distance or neutrality. It's a war of extermination waged against occupation and to people with no means, confined in a minimum territory, with no water, and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targets and Presumed to be terrorists. It's hard to understand and impossible to justify. And it's disgraceful That western country clubs are permitting Such genocide," reads the translation on the newspaper site. 

Below, Bardem's full statement issued on Thursday clarifying his stance on the issue: 

"This week, along with a number of artists in my home country of Spain, I spoke out about the conflict in Gaza urging all governments to intervene in this escalating crisis. My signature was solely meant as a plea for peace. Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction.

"While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife — which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war.

"I was raised to be against any act of violence, and the consequent suffering of humanity for it, regardless of religions, ethnicities and borders. Too many innocent Palestinian mothers have lost their children to this conflict. Too many innocent Israeli mothers share the same grief. There should not be any political reason that can justify such enormous pain on both sides. It’s my hope that leaders involved in this complicated struggle will heed the call of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "In the name of humanity, the violence must stop.”

"Palestinians and Israelis in the region deserve to have their safety and human rights recognized and respected so in the near future they may find peace and co-existence, for themselves and their innocent children. So generations to come could bring hope, forgiveness and compassion for each other. This is the most basic and necessary way to peace for all of us."

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