In hopes of countering negative press, Israel has offered top Oscar nominees an all expenses-paid, 10-day trip to the Jewish state.
The move comes a few weeks after a U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Israeli settlement expansion an “affront” to the world.
"These are the most senior people in the film industry in Hollywood and leading opinion-formers who we are interested in hosting," said Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. "They will experience the country first-hand and not through the media."
The 10-day trip includes first-class flights for two and accommodation in five-star hotels and is worth nearly $55,000 — roughly twice the average Israeli salary.
But despite all the glitz and glamour and money involved in the affair, there’s no way Israel can cover up its gross human rights abuses committed against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In addition to building illegal homes on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, Israel is also accused of carrying out mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians during its 2014 military operation Protective Edge. The 50-day conflict killed 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 551 children, and 66 Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
Last year, a joint study by Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture found the Israeli army deliberately targeted Gaza civilians during a brutal assault known as "Black Friday" on Aug. 1.
“There is overwhelming evidence that Israeli forces committed disproportionate, or otherwise indiscriminate, attacks which killed scores of civilians in their homes, on the streets and in vehicles and injured many more,” the report noted.
Rejecting and ignoring repeated calls for accountability from human rights organizations, and more recently, the U.N. head himself, Israel has continued with its aggressive approach toward Palestinians.
By including a luxury tour to Israel in its gift bag, the Academy has, if rather subtly, declared its support for the Israeli government. But then again, one can expect it from an association which has consistently proven to be insensitive to serious issues like racism and diversity.
Also, if Israel thinks it can cover up its attacks on humanity by offering celebrities free manicures and spa days, then it’s sorely mistaken.
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