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Israel invited 26 Oscars stars to visit. None of them went.

posted on: Feb 23, 2017

Israel invited 26 Oscars stars to visit. None of them went.

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

With the 89th Academy Awards airing this Sunday, Palestinian activists are happy to announce that not a single actor invited to Israel after the 88th ceremony accepted the invitation.

Last year, 25 Oscars nominees and host Chris Rock were asked to invited to an all-expense paid trip to Israel after the Oscars aired. Those invited were the five nominated actors in the top five categories. Celebrities included Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Mark Rylance, and Cate Blanchett.

Nearly a year later, none of them have taken the trip. Actress Jennifer Lawrence was the only one to take the offer, but she gave it to her parents.

The trip was organized by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, which often extends trips like these to celebrities and prolific Americans.

The personalized tour came in a gift bag given to stars at the Oscars. The bag itself was worth $200,000 because it included absurdly lavish products, including “expensive toilet paper.” Also included in the bag was the voucher to visit Israel, valued at $55,000 per person. The trip would include first-class air travel to Israel, luxury hotels, and personalized tours. The gift bag received heavy criticism last year because of its outlandish worth and included tour.

Critics of Israel are claiming this as a victory ahead of the 2017 Oscars ceremony. Yousef Munayyer of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights told Yahoo News, “This is a success.”

“I am very glad there’s no evidence that people went. I think it is clear the objective of using the actors to whitewash Israel has failed,” Munayyer added.

The announcement of this victory comes just a week after six NFL players rejected a trip to Israel. At the end of the NFL season, Israel offered 11 players the same opportunity, but one five took the offer. Those who said no argued that going to Israel would go against their values of justice and equality.

For years, Israel has been trying to get celebrities to visit Israel on these so-called propaganda tours. After days of social media campaigning asking actors to #SkipTheTrip, it appears the pro-Palestine activists have won.

According to Israel’s tour minister, these trips are used to influence “leading opinion-formers” so that their “visit will have enormous resonance among millions of fans and followers.”

However, it seems that the harder Israel tries to appeal to America’s popular figures, the less they want to visit Israel. The cultural boycott of Israel has already seen not only NFL and Hollywood stars #SkipTheTrip, but the campaign has also stopped many musicians from performing in Israel, too.

By enticing celebrities to Israel, the country is attempting to whitewash its human rights atrocities, illegal occupation, and racist laws that defy many American values.