More than 2,000 figures in the arts and entertainment industry signed an open letter condemning and calling for an immediate end to Israel's attack and blockade on Gaza, though some have criticized the letter for not mentioning the initial attacks carried out by Hamas.
The petition written by Artists for Palestine UK says a "spectre of death" is hanging over Gaza and its 2.3 million Palestinian residents due to Israel's retaliatory airstrikes and its government's decision to cut electricity, food, fuel and other supplies from reaching the territory.
"Our governments are not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them," the letter reads. "There will come a time when they are held to account for their complicity. But for now, while condemning every act of violence against civilians and every infringement of international law whoever perpetrates them, our obligation is to do all we can to bring an end to the unprecedented cruelty being inflicted on Gaza."
It goes on to demand governments end support for Israel's actions, calling for an "immediate ceasefire" and the opening of Gaza's borders to allow humanitarian aid to enter "unhindered."
Notable signatories of the letter include actors Tilda Swinton, Steve Coogan, Miriam Margolyes, Charles Dance, Peter Mullan and more, along with a multitude of other producers, artists, musicians and figures in the space.
But the letter's not including mention of Hamas' actions in the war have made the petition a point of condemnation from other figures, such as former Director of Labour Friends of Israel David Mencer, who described it as "drivel."
"I invite this group of misfits and weirdos to rescue their ailing careers and try their chances as artists in Gaza under the Hamas regime," he told The Telegraph. "I promise to sign a letter when they are locked up and beg for their release."
This comment and others like it may be what prompted one actor who signed the letter to walk back his involvement, saying in a post on X he "inadvertently signed something" that doesn't reflect his beliefs.
"I believed it was a simple call for PEACE ... it wasn't," "Outlander" actor Sam Heughan wrote. "I condemn violence in any form. I stand against terrorism and evil and am heartbroken and appalled by the recent horrific actions by Hamas ... I don't know nearly enough and [am] trying to educate myself on the conflicts in the Middle East."
— Sam Heughan (@SamHeughan) October 19, 2023
The celebrity-supported statement isn't the first to come of the war, though most others have been outward in their support for Israel.
Less than a week prior to the Artists for Palestine UK letter, more than 700 Hollywood directors, producers and actors — including Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Pine and Mark Hamill — signed a letter standing with the country as it "takes the necessary steps to defend its citizens in the coming days and weeks."
Israel is currently retaliating after Hamas brutally attacked the country out of Gaza on Oct. 7, killing some 1,400 and taking nearly 200 hostages. Thousands of Palestinians have now been killed in Israel's subsequent attacks, while its "total blockade" of Gaza has led to supplies running near empty in the territory.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com