American actor Mark Ruffalo recently appeared on the Mehdi Hasan Show, slamming Israel for alleged “asymmetrical warfare acted upon [Palestinians].”
According to Ruffalo, artists “have a responsibility to speak up against [injustice],” and pursuing justice is his “calling on earth.” Hasan is a former Al Jazeera journalist, and Ruffalo, among other performances, is probably best known for his role as “The Hulk” in the film series “The Avengers.” Ruffalo went on to accuse Israel of oppression, apartheid and failing to live up to the “same standards as any other nation of the world.” He also expressed dismay that people have called his similar past statements anti-Semitic.
Though seemingly well-intended, Ruffalo is mindlessly parroting anti-Israel lies and distortions. He decries Palestinian death and destruction, but fails to fully educate himself on the facts. Palestinians have been offered and rejected peace and land many times including in 1947, 1949, 1967, 1995 and 2000-01. They have launched thousands of terror attacks on Israeli towns and civilians. The Israeli Defense Forces does as much or more than other armed forces in the world to protect the lives of noncombatants.
Ruffalo’s condemnation of Israel lacks balance and objectivity. There is no sign of empathy for the suffering of innocent Israelis, or any criticism of Hamas’s goal to destroy the Jewish state or of its reign of terror on both Israelis and its people. There is no call for reconciliation or compromise.
Whether he intends to or not, Ruffalo has repeatedly strayed into the demonization of the Jewish state and singling out Israel for unreasonably high standards—two of Natan Sharansky’s three tells for anti-Semitism. In 2014, he accused Israel of needlessly and heartlessly bombing a Gazan hospital, which is a modern-day blood libel. He seems genuinely pained that people would think that he is anti-Semitic, yet falsely accuses the Jewish homeland of heinous acts and leaps to defend Hamas’s humanity. When it came out that the terrorist organization knowingly put the patients in the line of fire, Ruffalo naively tweeted: “Do you honestly think these people [Hamas], these fellow human beings, would use their own children as shields? Use your heart.”
It is time to erase the delusory line between demonization of Israel and Jew-hatred, as the former feeds the latter. When people describe the Jewish state as racist and immoral, they are tilling the soil for global anti-Semitism.
Ruffalo is entitled to his opinion, but as a public figure with an outsized microphone, he must get the story straight. If he spent 30 minutes reading Hamas’s charter with its pledge to destroy Israel—or researched how it treats homosexuals and regards women, and contrasts it to the rights of gays, women and minorities in Israel—he might be moved to treat all the players with a fair hand. Maybe then he may end up truly helping the Palestinian people.
Lana Melman is the CEO of Liberate Art Inc., a leader in the fight against the cultural boycott campaign against Israel, and a writer and public speaker.
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