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Over 100 celebrities slam Israel’s terror designation of Palestinian rights groups

Open letter describes the move as an ‘unprecedented and blanket attack’; Hollywood stars Richard Gere, Claire Foy, Tilda Swinton, and Susan Sarandon among signatories

Clockwise from top left: Richard Gere, Claire Foy, Tilda Swinton, Susan Sarandon, Ken Loach, and Jarvis Cocker. (AP)
Clockwise from top left: Richard Gere, Claire Foy, Tilda Swinton, Susan Sarandon, Ken Loach, and Jarvis Cocker. (AP)

More than 100 celebrities signed an open letter criticizing Israel for labeling six Palestinian human rights groups as “terror organizations” last month, according to reports Wednesday.

Hollywood stars Richard Gere, Claire Foy, Tilda Swinton, and Susan Sarandon; director Ken Loach, musician Jarvis Cocker, the band Massive Attack, and authors Philip Pullman, Colm Tobin, and Irvine Welsh, were among the high-profile signatories, Sky News reported.

The joint letter was organized by the anti-Zionist Jewish Voice For Peace group.

It described the recent move as “an unprecedented and blanket attack on Palestinian human rights defenders,” warning that it “puts at risk not just the organizations themselves, but the entire Palestinian civil society and the tens of thousands of Palestinians they serve every day.”

In October, Israel designated six Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist groups, saying they were tied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular, leftist political movement with an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. Israel and Western countries consider the PFLP a terrorist organization.

But Israel has yet to take further action against the groups, which operate openly in the West Bank.

The six groups, some of which have close ties to rights groups in Israel and abroad, deny the allegations.

The designated groups are the Al-Haq human rights group, the Addameer rights group, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

Palestinian PFLP supporters seen during a rally marking the 52nd anniversary of its founding, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on December 14, 2019. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Many, including Israeli ministers, have expressed skepticism about the allegations.

The Defense Ministry has yet to provide public concrete evidence of the allegations or of a direct connection between these organizations and the PFLP.

A confidential Israeli dossier shown to officials, detailing alleged links between the groups and the terror organization, contained little evidence and failed to convince European countries to stop funding the groups, according to a report earlier this month.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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