- Legends of Real Madrid and Barcelona FC Play For Peace: Ignoring boycott pressure, the biggest football rivalry headed to the holy land last summer in a face-off between the Barcelona legends and the Real Madrid legend soccer teams. Brazilian soccer stars, such as Ronaldinho and Rivaldo, squared off against Real Madrid greats, such as Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo. Ronaldinho and Rivaldo even posted videos on their social media expressing their love for Israel and hyping up their Israeli fans!
- Hollywood Supports TLVFest: As in previous years, Israel haters attempted to boycott TLVFest, an international film festival in Tel Aviv that celebrates the LGBTQ community. This time, some of the world’s leading entertainment icons came out in support of the event, with over 200 industry leaders signing a CCFP open letter against cultural boycotts, rejecting any attempt to boycott TLVFest. The letter stated that hate has no place in the arts and that TLVFest embodies the spirit of unity and truth by bringing diverse people together through and featuring filmmakers of all backgrounds, including Palestinians. Signatories included Mila Kunis, Helen Mirren, Emmanuelle Chrique, Lance Bass, Zachary Quinto, Neil Patrick Harris, Nick Carter, and many more!
- Culture Collaboration Between Israel and UAE: In celebration of the historic peace accord between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Israeli singer Narkis, a religious Jew, performed in the UAE at the World Fashion Festival Awards to an Emirati and Israeli audience. Not only that, Israeli fashion model Yael Shelbia, become the first Israeli to grace the cover of Emirati fashion magazine L’officiel. History has never looked so beautiful!
- Judokas Embrace: In a heartfelt display of progress and sportsmanship, Israeli Judo athlete Raz Hershko and her Saudi Competitor, Tahani Alqahtani, shook hands and embraced one another after completing their match at the Tokyo Olympics.
Also at last summer’s Olympics, Saeid Mollaei, an Iranian Judoka champion who was forced to flee to Mongolia, took home the silver medal in the men’s 81-kilogram judo division. After his win, Mollaei spoke to Israeli news channels and expressed gratitude for Israel, even dedicating his medal to the Jewish state. He proudly took photos with his Israeli competitor, Sagi Muki, in a beautiful display of unity and sportsmanship. Not only that, but Iranian coach Vahid Sarlak befriended an Israeli coach and filmed a video message together for the world on the importance of sport for peace.
- Black Eyed Peas Bring The Love to Jerusalem: Despite pressure from boycotters, the Black Eyed Peas followed through on their commitment to perform in Jerusalem this past November. Lead member Will.I.Am shared some incredible words at a press conference, where the American artist spoke out against division and calls to cancel their show, rejecting BDS and emphasizing how music is a bridge to understanding and tolerance. “Do I turn my back on people that I’ve met here because of politics?” he asked, rhetorically. “No, that’s not the way we were built.” He added, “When people tell me not to come to Israel, I say- I have friends and family there. I can’t let politics get in the way of where my heart is going.”
- Baseball and Rugby Uniting Arabs and Jews: Proving that sports has the power to bring people together, Israeli and Emirati youth teamed up to form a new baseball league. Also, the Israeli and Emirati rugby teams played their first ever match in an example of the strengthening ties between the two countries following their historic normalization agreement. The Israeli rugby players even held a Jewish religious ceremony in the UAE to welcome in the sabbath. It’s amazing what sports and culture can do to unite people around the world!
- Debra Messing Speaks Out: Last summer, during the violent flare-up between Gaza and Israel, there was a 438% increase in antisemitic incidents reported. From Los Angeles to New York, London to Italy, Jews around the world were attacked, chased down, and beaten in the streets. Jewish shops, homes, and synagogues were vandalized across the globe. Hundreds of celebrities fueled the hatred, spreading misinformation and divisive rhetoric online. But some entertainers, including American actress and liberal activist Debra Messing, courageously spoke out and used their platforms to send a message of peace and support for the Jewish people, and to spread awareness about the rise in antisemitism. “Most people living in Israel want peace,” posted Messing. Other brave celebrity voices willing to go against the grain included Michael Rapaport and Bill Maher, who wisely declared, “You can’t learn history from Instagram.” CCFP also released an open letter signed by more than 130 leaders from the entertainment industry who came together to call for balanced discourse regarding escalating violence and to reject inflammatory rhetoric that furthers conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Signatories included Gene Simmons, Selma Blair, Meghan McCain, Michael Bublé, and many more!
- Miss South Africa Stands Up To Bullying: The BDS movement launched a vicious bullying campaign against Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, pressuring her to drop out of the Miss Universe beauty pageant because it was being hosted in Eilat, Israel. But even after members of her own government disavowed her and distanced themselves from the competition, Mswane refused to submit to the hatred and proudly went to Israel to represent her country. The pageant was a massive success, and Mswane finished as 2nd runner-up! “My soul would not have been at peace if I had skipped it,” recalled the beauty queen. CCFP commends Mswane’s bravery and applauds her commitment to fostering understanding between nations.
- Olympics Reject BDS: In a true victory for peace and a defeat for the divisive BDS movement, the International Olympic committee took a stance against discrimination in sport and announced that countries banning the State of Israel or its athletes will not be allowed to host any Olympic competitions.
- Ambassadors of Peace: Creative Community For Peace held its third annual Ambassadors of Peace gala event, which brought together over 400 members of the entertainment community to honor entertainment luminaries for their commitment to using their platforms to unite people, effect positive change in the world, and advance CCFP’s central belief that the arts and entertainment are a powerful force for building cultural bridges.
This year’s honorees included Diane Warren (Grammy Award Winning Songwriter), Harvey Mason jr. (President and CEO of the Recording Academy), Afo Verde (Chairman & CEO Sony Music Latin), Ben Maddahi (Senior VP of A&R at Columbia Records), Austin Rosen (Founder/CEO, Electric Feel Ent – Manages Post Malone, 24kGoldn), and Traci Szymanski (President of Co-Star Entertainment).
The event also featured appearances by Gloria Estefan, Clive Davis, Maluma, Post Malone, Jimmy Jam, DJ Khaled, and a special performance by Deborah Cox.
Creative Community for Peace wishes its readers and supporters a happy and healthy New Year!
Cover Photo Credit: By NASA/Aubrey Gemignani – https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/41601236015/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69678826 //
By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20365245
By Alex Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil – R10, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30415202