The Guardian / January 13, 2022
Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo among signatories to letter supporting Harry Potter actor accused of antisemitism.
Major figures from the world of film, including Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Capaldi and Charles Dance have issued a statement in support of Emma Watson and Palestinian solidarity.
Last week, Watson, best known for playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise, was accused of antisemitism after she posted an image on Instagram showing a photograph of a pro-Palestinian protest with the banner “solidarity is a verb” written across it. It was accompanied with a quote about the meaning of solidarity from the intersectional feminist scholar Sara Ahmed.
The post drew strong criticism from Israeli officials, including Danny Danon, a former science minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, who said: “Ten points from Gryffindor for being an antisemite.”
Israel’s current ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said: “Fiction may work in Harry Potter but it does not work in reality. If it did, the magic used in the wizarding world could eliminate the evils of Hamas (which oppresses women and seeks the annihilation of Israel) and the PA (which supports terror).”
In a letter organized by Artists for Palestine UK, a cultural network “standing together for Palestinian rights”, more than 40 named people, including Gael García Bernal, Jim Jarmusch, Maxine Peake, Viggo Mortensen and Steve Coogan, said: “We join Emma Watson in support of the simple statement that ‘solidarity is a verb’, including meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law.”
Citing a report by Human Rights Watch claiming Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution, the artists, including Watson’s Harry Potter co-stars Miriam Margolyes and Julie Christie, continued: “We recognize the underlying power imbalance between Israel, the occupying power, and the Palestinians, the people under a system of military occupation and apartheid.
“We stand against ongoing Israeli attempts to forcibly displace Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
The artists added that they condemned all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. “Opposition to a political system or policy is distinct from bigotry, hatred and discrimination targeting any group of humans based on their identity,” they said.
Other signatories include the screenwriter and producer James Schamus and the directors Asif Kapadia, Mira Nair and Ken Loach. Loach was recently expelled from the Labour party.
Nadia Khomami is an arts and culture correspondent