Javier Bardem Clarifies Comments in Open Letter About Middle East Conflict

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“My signature was solely meant as a plea for peace,” the actor says in a statement

Javier Bardem joined wife Penelope Cruz in clarifying his comments from an open letter recently published in Spanish newspapers, which condemned the Israeli air strikes in Gaza as “genocide.”

“My signature was solely meant as a plea for peace,” Bardem said in a statement of his decision to sign the open letter. “Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction.”

Also read: Penelope Cruz Clarifies Stance on Middle East Conflict

Bardem, Cruz and director Pedro Almodovar were among the Spanish film industry professionals who signed their names to the open letter which said, in part, “Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air.” It continued, “Palestinians’ homes are being destroyed, they are being denied water, electricity [and] free movement to their hospitals, schools and fields while the international community does nothing.”

“While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses,” Bardem continued in his new statement. “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.”

Also read: Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodovar Condemn Israel for Gaza Attacks

Cruz released a statement on Wednesday, also distancing herself from the open letter, which has clearly stirred an incendiary response on the sensitive issue of the Middle East crisis.

Bardem’s full response is below:

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.