From Portside Culture <[email protected]>
Subject David Clennon: I’m a Hollywood Actor. I Support BDS. Will I Be Blacklisted?
Date October 23, 2019 12:00 AM
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[There is no more important time for creative people in Hollywood
to say NO and join the wider cultural boycott. California is one
of 26 states to pass measures penalizing certain BDS activities,
including blacklisiting contractors who boycott Isreal.]
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PORTSIDE CULTURE

DAVID CLENNON: I’M A HOLLYWOOD ACTOR. I SUPPORT BDS. WILL I BE
BLACKLISTED?  
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David Clennon
October 19, 2019
TRUTHOUT
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_ There is no more important time for creative people in Hollywood to
say NO and join the wider cultural boycott. California is one of 26
states to pass measures penalizing certain BDS activities, including
blacklisiting contractors who boycott Isreal. _

Actor David Clennon attends premiere of Angel Valley Productions'
"Reversion" at Downtown Independent Theater on September 29, 2015, in
Los Angeles, California. , Keipher Mckennie/ Getty Images

 

As actors age in Hollywood, they find fewer and fewer opportunities to
earn a living, even those in the most privileged category: white males
like me.

So a reader’s comment I came across below a recent article about me
in the _Jewish Journal _of Los Angeles captured my full,
survival-mode attention. The comment was from a veteran Hollywood
producer, Howard Rosenman, whose most recent credit is _Call Me by
Your Name_, a film that earned four Academy Award nominations and won
the 2018 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The _Jewish Journal_ article was titled “Actor Declines Netflix
Audition Because of Israeli Producing Affiliation
[[link removed]].” The article
reported on my recent decision
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honor the cultural boycott of Israel for Palestinian rights. 

Rosenman’s comment below the story was brief and pointed:

So David Clennon wants to play that game? Two can play that game. I
will NEVER work with that asshole David Clenon    [sic] & I’ll get
all my Jewish Producer friends as well.

A successful Hollywood producer is threatening to initiate a new
blacklist against one somewhat successful but slightly washed-up
actor: me. How did we get here?

MY PREVIOUS _TRUTHOUT _ARTICLE

Several weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to audition for a new
Netflix series, originally titled “Hit and Run,” now with the
working title “Sycamore.” I was intrigued by the role and anxious
for employment, so I set to work learning the audition scenes.

But I soon discovered that “Hit and Run”/“Sycamore” was an
international co-production, a joint project of U.S. and Israeli
television companies.

Since the Israeli massacre of 2,200 residents of Gaza in 2014, I have
supported the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel under the larger
umbrella of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. But
I wasn’t sure whether U.S.-Israeli television co-productions should
be included among cultural enterprises that socially conscious artists
ought to reject. (I’m used to thinking in terms of professors or
musical artists refusing to lecture or perform in Israeli venues.)

I consulted with a friend in the Los Angeles chapter of Jewish Voice
for Peace. She confirmed that, yes, this is a different type of
cultural venture but one we should also boycott. 

I informed my agents that I would not submit an audition video. 

I also decided to make a public statement about my boycott action.
Going public would likely offend many powerful Hollywood
decision-makers, but I thought it would be worthwhile to try to
generate a discussion within our industry of BDS in general and the
cultural boycott in particular.

After my story was published
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I didn’t know what to expect. What I _least_ expected was that the
story would be picked up by any commercial news outlets. But within 24
hours, I heard about stories in the U.K.’s _Daily Mail_
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Hollywood_
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Hollywood Reporter_
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Jerusalem Post_
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the _Jewish Journal_
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Except for the _Jewish Journal_ and _Deadline Hollywood_, the
articles were neutral or even slightly sympathetic. However, the
comments posted by readers were overwhelmingly hostile. In their rush
to vilify, the commenters did not address the cultural boycott, or my
support of it. Instead, they consistently resorted to personal
attacks, alleging that I was an anti-Semite, a loser and a publicity
hound.

CRITICIZING ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IS NOT ANTI-SEMITISM 

This allegation is yet another example of how the charge of
“anti-Semitism” has been widely employed by defenders of
Israel’s expansionism and its crimes against the Palestinian people.
Legitimate criticism of Israel has been strategically and unfairly
labeled “anti-Semitism,” often drawing attention away from the
many very real instances of actual anti-Semitism that exist in this
age of rising white nationalism.

Many Jewish critics of Israel have argued
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Israel is not a righteous embodiment of the Jewish faith and of Jewish
tradition, and that it cannot rightfully stand as the single nation
representing the entire international Jewish community. A state
founded upon multiple acts of violent ethnic cleansing and maintained
by a system of racial apartheid stands as a moral contradiction to
centuries of Jewish theological reflection and ethical reasoning. 

Both Jews and non-Jews worldwide are justified in questioning the
behavior of the Israeli state, and doing so does not constitute
anti-Semitism. The Palestinian people are entitled to every right
enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by
the United Nations in 1948. Moreover, the Palestinian people should be
allowed to call upon the world community to boycott Israel in order to
pressure the government to change its ways.

FACING THE THREAT OF A CONTEMPORARY BLACKLIST 

Because of my participation in the BDS movement, I have had to face
the possibility that my career as an actor was in serious jeopardy,
especially in light of Rosenman’s unambiguous threat and dozens of
menacing troll-slurs in _Deadline Hollywood._

The kind of formal, well-publicized blacklist of the 1940s, ‘50s and
early ‘60s may never occur again. The practice got a bad name. Any
contemporary blacklist is likely to be subtler. In 21st century
Hollywood, dissidents may never know for sure if they’re being
blacklisted. And it would be unwise to dismiss the possibility of some
new form of coordinated blackballing. In Hollywood, Zionism could be
as powerful a motivating ideology as anti-communism was in the 1940s
and ‘50s.

So far, my own fears of being blacklisted, in any obvious way, have
not been realized. My agents have stuck by me. So far, casting
directors have accepted me into the audition process.

So far, producer Rosenman has not publicly declared that “all of my
Jewish Producer friends” have in fact joined him in openly
proclaiming that they too will “NEVER work with that asshole David
Clenon [sic].”

It will be interesting to see if any of my auditions result in my
being hired — to see if the decision-makers in the echelons above
agents and casting directors determine that I’m fit to work in their
productions.

THE LARGER ISSUE: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

But there is a question of much greater importance than one actor’s
future prospects: Will the cultural boycott have a place in Hollywood?

Hollywood has had a love affair with Israel since at least 1960, when
United Artists released _Exodus_, starring the late Paul Newman.
Fictional Zionism, the compelling mythology surrounding the foundation
of the Israeli state, has had an iron grip on the hearts and minds of
Hollywood ever since.

Two years after _Exodus_, Columbia Pictures released _Lawrence of
Arabia_. That film did not touch on the politics of Palestine, but it
portrayed Arabs as almost uniformly uncivilized, violent, ruthless and
needing the guidance of white father-figures like T.E. Lawrence.

After seeing these popular Hollywood epics, anyone, particularly of my
generation, who thought about the Arab-Israeli conflict would be
inclined to view Israelis sympathetically and respectfully, while
assuming that Palestinians, portrayed like other Arabs, were unable to
govern themselves, and thus fit for dispossession and subjugation.
(Hollywood’s portrayals of Native Americans displayed troubling
similarities.)

More recently, the ties that bind U.S. and Israeli entertainment
enterprises seem to be getting tighter, even as the grip of the
influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee is, very
gradually, slipping over the hearts and minds of American politicians.
As the mask of democracy slips from the face of the Israeli state, it
seems some in Hollywood are joining forces with Tel Aviv to repair
Israel’s image. 

There is no better time, no more important time, for creative people
in Hollywood to say “No” and join the wider cultural boycott. My
home state of California is one of 26 states
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pass measures to penalize certain BDS activities, including the
blacklisting of contractors who boycott Israel. That legal restriction
on free speech, and the pressure that spawned it needs to be
challenged, especially in the arena of mass entertainment.

The more we in the entertainment community foster outspoken dissent
from Hollywood’s reflexive defense of the Israeli state, the harder
it will be to penalize the dissidents by initiating a new version of
the blacklist.

Will Hollywood progressives step up for human rights? Will they stand
up against racism and apartheid in Israel? Will they stand up for
themselves? 

Or will the specter of a new list of undesirable unemployables scare
them off?

_DAVID CLENNON has appeared in the feature films Being There,
Missing, The Thing, Syriana and Gone Girl. His television credits
include “thirtysomething,” HBO’s “From the Earth to the
Moon” and Netflix’s “House of Cards.” His guest actor turn on
HBO’s “Dream On” brought him an Emmy award. _

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_Copyright,__ Truthout [[link removed]]__. Reprinted with
permission. May not be reprinted without permission. _

_Truthout publishes a variety of hard-hitting news stories and
critical analysis pieces every day. To keep up-to-date,__ sign up for
our newsletter by clicking here
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