Action stars Arnold, Sly chip in for the IDF

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Action stars Arnold, Sly chip in for the IDF
Hollywood movie stars like to be associated with worthy causes. So with this in mind, what better cause than a fundraiser for the “brave warriors” of the IDF?

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone have enjoyed long and successful careers in Hollywood playing characters in movies that kill people ruthlessly and indiscriminately. The Israel Defense Force likewise kills people ruthlessly and indiscriminately; only unlike Arnold and Sly Stallone they do it for real. However in a part of the world where the line separating fact and fiction is often blurred such differences are a trifling matter when compared to the ties that bind action stars and an institution whose crimes would shame all the devils in hell.

What better way to cement those ties than a glitzy Beverly Hills fundraiser for the IDF. Also in attendance at the star-studded gala event, organized by the Los Angeles branch of Friends of the IDF, were Barbara Streisand, Pamela Anderson, Ricky Martin and various Hollywood movers and shakers. It succeeded in raising $33 million, a record amount for this now annual event, $10 million of which was reportedly donated by the founder of Oracle Larry Ellison.

You can buy a lot of bullets with that kind of money, which is just as well because the IDF used up a ton of them during its recent military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. Operation Protective Edge lasted 50 days and according to UN figures left 2,189 Palestinians dead, including 1,486 civilians, out of which 513 were children. Seventy two Israelis also died, made up of 66 soldiers and 6 civilians. The destruction wrought in Gaza during the assault, including the shelling of UN schools and compounds where civilians were sheltering, mosques, and residential areas, has prompted a UN investigation into “possible” war crimes by the IDF.

But even without the brutal and disproportionate violence unleashed on civilians by the IDF during its periodic military assaults on Gaza, it is engaged in the daily violation of international law with its military occupation of the West Bank and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to make way for Jewish settlements.

Clearly though none of this stuff matters in Hollywood, a part of the world so removed from reality it’s like a different planet. Even so, it is still difficult to comprehend the lack of a moral compass required to drink champagne and pose for pictures at an event to raise money for an organization which kills and maims men, women and children so readily. Whatever next: video games?

In August 2014, while Operation Protective Edge was ongoing, Arnold and Sly Stallone were among the 200 signatories to an open letter in support of Israel’s assault on the basis of its right to defend itself. It was a call for peace while IDF missiles, tanks shells, and other ordinance rained down on Gaza blowing the place to smithereens. At least now we know satire isn’t dead.

A Palestinian protester runs away from Israeli border guards during clashes following a protest against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Anyway, I’m taller than Arnold. I know this because I used to live in Hollywood and came across him in the gym once. He also dyes his hair and looks like he knows what the inside of a plastic surgeon’s office looks like. Hard to admit, but when I was in my teens he was one of my heroes. His rags to riches story inspired me, just as it has and still does thousands of teenagers to this day. Whenever you think about the American dream the image of Arnold is never far away. He represents the triumph of the will, the virtues of manly strength, determination, and blind ambition that are synonymous with America or with how America likes to view itself.

The truth is of course it’s a lie, both the American dream and Arnold. They constitute a perversion of the human experience, a manufactured image which is at odds with reality. In the case of the American dream this reality is a society crumbling under the weight of injustice, mass poverty, racism, and despair, while in the case of Arnold the reality is an old man ageing disgracefully and increasingly taking on the appearance of a mummy in the process.

I still remember the time he was elected Governor of California back in 2003. By then my values had undergone a sea change from what they were in my teens and I reviled everything the former Mr. Universe stood for. One of his first things he did as governor was deny an appeal for clemency in the case of San Quentin death row inmate Kevin Cooper in the face of growing evidence pointing to a miscarriage of justice.

I recall attending a demonstration outside Schwarzenegger’s house – actually a huge compound – near Malibu to protest his decision to deny the clemency hearing. His scheduled execution was halted just four hours before it was due to take place on February 4, 2004, when the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted to send the case back to a federal judge due to the emergence of new information pointing to the tampering and planting of evidence by the police in order to secure Cooper’s conviction for the murder of four people.

Actually, when you think about it Arnold, Sylvester Stallone and the IDF are the perfect match. Look out for the movie in a theater near you soon.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.