BDS Takes Hollywood: David Clennon Invokes Cultural Boycott of Israel
By: Omar Mansour/ Arab America contributing writer
In 2019, Emmy-winning U.S. actor David Clennon revealed he had turned down an audition for a new Netflix series from the makers of Israeli series ‘Fauda’ because of his support for the Palestinian cause. More recently, he has gone a step further by revealing spoilers in attempts to undermine the new U.S./Israeli Netflix production, brining the risk of lawsuits.
He is working with Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles in calling on viewers to boycott “Apartheid TV,” focusing on Netflix’s “Hit and Run,” a U.S./Israeli co-production. The Israeli partners in “Hit and Run” were behind the Netflix series “Fauda,” which was based on the premise that Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land is necessary and justified. “Fuada” caused quite a stir when it first aired in 2016, widely panned for its racist, dehumanizing portrayal of Palestinians, and the glorification of the Israeli colonizers.
The official website for the BDS Movement rips the series. “The series ‘Fauda’ promotes and legitimizes violent acts committed against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory by Israeli army death squads — the so-called ‘Mistaravim’…The show’s writers, who were members in these units, have brought based the series on the war crimes committed by these squads against Palestinians.”
Clennon writes, in his most recent piece, For Justice in Palestine, Boycott Netflix’s Apartheid TV: ‘Hit and Run.’, that he reveals narrative plot points, or “spoilers” in the “Hit and Run” series, in order “to encourage viewers to focus on the racism and violence inherent in Israeli domination of Palestine.” His intent is to “undermine the suspense which the creators of this U.S./Israeli series are trying to build, in order to keep viewers engaged.”
The call by Clennon and Jewish Voice for Peace is part of a newer front in the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel: Hollywood. Hollywood as a frontier in the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is one both long in the making and long awaited. Racist and Orientalist depictions of Arabs go back decades, and were called out then by the brilliant work of the also brilliant, late Dr. Jack Shaheen. His 1984 book, “The TV Arab,” and more recent documentary adaption entitled “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People” dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the days of silent films up to the present day. Actions like Clennon’s, then, are beyond overdue.
This action by Clennon is nothing new. He has a history in Hollywood as an outspoken political activist lobbying against an Emmy Award for Ken Burns’ Vietnam series, which he claimed “peddles Pentagon propaganda.” His past includes turning down roles in Just Cause and 24 – another series with an outdated, racist depiction of Arabs and Muslims – because they clashed with his political beliefs.
Clennon is definitely aware that by revealing “spoilers,” he is potentially vulnerable to lawsuits by Netflix, as well as by the U.S. and Israeli producers of the series. He is also aware that, due to California’s anti-BDS law, AB2844, any film or television company that may hire him in the future could face legal punishment. Going forward with it all, then, shows that the importance of the work and message takes priority.
He states, “I’m not a high-profile performer…My refusal to collaborate with Israeli producers will have a negligible effect on this expensive and ambitious project. My decision is just one individual’s act of conscience in solidarity with the Palestinian people…”
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