Olivia Colman signs letter calling Israel’s actions ‘cruel beyond words’

Over 1,000 artists and actors put names to letter that accuses arts institutions of ‘repressing Palestinian voices’


LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Olivia Colman attends the Warner Bros. Pictures World Premiere of "Wonka" at The Royal Festival Hall on November 28, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Pictures)

Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman has signed a letter alongside more than 1,000 other actors and artists that cites a warning about a potential Israeli “genocide” against the Palestinians and describes Israel’s retaliation against Hamas as “cruel beyond words”.

The letter, which was also signed by Olivier Award winners Harriet Walter and Juliet Stevenson, Bafta-winning Sex Education actress Aimee Lou Wood, The Crown actor Amir El-Masry and Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan, accuses cultural institutions across Western countries of “repressing, silencing and stigmatising Palestinian voices and perspectives”.

The statement says its signatories “refuse to pit one community against the other, and stand firmly against all forms of racism including Islamophobia and antisemitism” but does not mention the Hamas atrocities on October 7 that kick-started the conflict.

The letter says: “The scale of violence unfolding in Gaza demands our collective attention and action. Members of Israel’s far-right government are openly calling for ethnic cleansing.

“The use of starvation as a weapon of war, along with denial of water and electricity, is cruel beyond words.

“The wholesale destruction of civilian infrastructure, the bombing of hospitals, schools, churches and mosques, the killing of 14,500 people in a matter of weeks, amount to a policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian people.

“The United Nations and hundreds of legal scholars have called on the international community to prevent genocide.”

The main targets of the letter are arts institutions that, in the words of the letter, “cancel performances, screenings, talks, exhibitions and book launches” and “threaten livelihoods of artists and arts workers who express solidarity with Palestinians”.

The letter goers on to say: “While catastrophe unfolds, we have observed a glaring absence of statements of solidarity with Palestinian people from most UK arts organisations.

“We find it deeply troubling and, frankly, indicative of a disturbing double standard that expressions of solidarity, which have been readily offered to other peoples facing brutal oppression, have not been extended to Palestinians.”

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