Ashton Kutcher visited settlements as guest of local settlers and rightwing group

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments »
Ashton Kutcher on his visit to the settlement of Efrat

Ashton Kutcher on his visit to the settlement of Efrat

More details on Ashton Kutcher’s visit(s) to the West Bank this week were published today by the Israeli media.

Apparently Kutcher didn’t only visit Hebron and Jushua’s grave near Nablus on Sunday, but also stopped yesterday at Gush Etzion (south of Bethlehem), were he received a guided tour on the history of Jewish settlements in the region and had lunch.

According to a report by Maariv [Hebrew], The visit was initiated and organized by the Israeli branch of the American Orthodox Union (OU). OU Israel, which receives funds for its activities from the municipality of Gush Etzion settlements [Hebrew], was credited for the photos Maariv and walla.co.il published from Kutcher’s visit to the settlements.

Journalist and culture critic Dafna Lustig, who called Kutcher “a jerk” on her twitter account following his West bank visit, wrote today on walla.co.il [Hebrew] that “Kutcher demonstrated one of the most blind, ignorant and insensitive acts a guest to Israel can do.”

If we assume Ashton Kutcher knew the story of the city of Hebron before the visit, then, like many others, he must believe that the occupation is legitimate and therefore does not have a problem taking this side side on the political map… [But if] Kutcher thinks Hebron is a legitimate tourist attraction just because he is not familiar with its history, than his visit is far more infuriating: we’re not in Beverly Hills and our problems won’t be concealed with the help of Botox. It’s the duty of every person, and certainly one who is so famous, to know where he is going (…) and if he doesn’t know and didn’t bother to find out, than I stand behind what I wrote on Twitter: he is simply a jerk.


Ashton Kutcher visits occupied Hebron and Nablus as Israeli guest, wearing an army hat?!

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Actor Ashton Kutcher, another one of Hollywood’s Kabbalah casualties, had come to visit Israel as a guest of the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv. On Saturday night Kutcher even partied in the birthday party of the Center’s founder, Rabbi Shraga Berg.

Yesterday, Kutcher took his spiritual trip one step too far: he went with his Israeli hosts to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the so-called “Joshua’s Grave” in a Palestinian village called Kafel-Hareth, near Nablus. At the grave, he was greeted by Colonel Avi Gil, commander of the Ephraim Brigade, who presented him with the brigade’s baseball hat.

The Ephraim Brigade is in charge of the Palestinian cities of Tul Karem and Kalkiliah, and the area east of them.

In the picture below, published on the Israeli news site walla.co.il [Hebrew], you can see Kutcher wearing the brigade’s hat yesterday evening, during a basketball game of the Israeli national team in Tel Aviv (more pics here). The caption at the bottom of the article says that Kutcher is “looking looks like an overly enthusiastic Birthright kid“.

Ashton kutcher with army hat (photo: berni ardov/walla.co.il)

Ashton Kutcher with army hat (photo: berni ardov/walla.co.il)

I wonder if Ashton Kutcher knows what poor judgment he demonstrated yesterday. Both Nablus and Hebron are well within the occupied territories. For more than 40 years now, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in these cities have no political or civil rights, can’t travel, work or study freely, and are tried in Israeli military courts under British colonial laws. The area of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is particularly nasty. Entire streets are forbidden to Palestinians, kept only for the use of a tiny and radical settlers’ community, which frequently harass and abuse the Arab residents.

Did anyone tell Ashton Kutcher that in 1994 a Jewish Terrorist named Baruch Goldstien (another resident of Jewish Hebron) opened fire on the Arabs praying there, killing 29 and wounding more than a hundred? Does Kutcher understand that coming to Hebron to pray with the Jewish community there is like riding into a black neighborhood in Alabama, 1950, with a KKK group? Does he realize that going to Nablus with an army hat is seen in the same way as going there on a Tank?

I don’t oppose the right of Jews to pray anywhere, just as I think Arabs should have this right (most of the Palestinian population is forbidden from entering their holy sites in Jerusalem), but context is everything, and right now the context in the West Bank is that of the occupation and the settlements.

If Ashton Kutcher wanted so badly to visit these holy places, he should have done it as a guest of the Palestinians. I’m sure they would have been happy to host him. But then he might have faced a different problem: the Israeli tendency to prevent foreigners from entering the occupied territories on the Palestinian’s invitation.

UPDATE: on Monday, Kutcher had another visit to the West bank, this time as a guest of the settlers themselves.