Hollywood Insiders Form Group To Counter Celebrity BDS Campaigns

Creative Community for Peace Lines Up Showbiz Execs

The Keys To Boycotting a Boycott:  Alicia Keys played Tel Aviv on the 4th of July
Getty Images
The Keys To Boycotting a Boycott: Alicia Keys played Tel Aviv on the 4th of July

By Nathan Guttman

Published October 22, 2013, issue of October 25, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

For activists on both sides of the battle over boycotting Israel, there’s no business quite like show business.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to isolate Israel because of its occupation of the West Bank, has often had trouble gaining traction on other fronts. But the performing arts have emerged as the one field in which calls to boycott the Jewish state have yielded some response. Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox and Stevie Wonder, among others, have responded to calls from grassroots activists by canceling dates in Israel or declining to play there, or at Israel-related events, even as other performers, including Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan and Madonna, have pointedly ignored such calls.

But lately, a group opposed to BDS has been taking a notably different approach. Unlike its opponents, who focus on building grassroots pressure by fans, from the bottom up, the Creative Community for Peace has assembled an impressive roster of top entertainment executives supportive of Israel who are seeking to influence artists from the top down to perform there.

“Because our members work within the industry, we are able to use our personal contacts to proactively reach out to artists and their representatives to provide balanced information about Israel,” said Lana Melman, CCFP’s director. “We prepare them for the possibility of a boycott campaign, educate them about Israel and the artistic freedom there, and work to arrest potential cancellations.”

CCFP, which formed in 2011, does not yet have its status as a tax-exempt charity recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. But while awaiting the processing of its application, it has partnered with StandWithUs, a group widely perceived as being on the far right of the pro-Israel spectrum. Pending acceptance of CCFP’s application, donors to the organization send their contributions to StandWithUs, an already recognized public charity. StandWithUs channels these donations to the newer group. This enables CCFP supporters to claim their donations as tax deductions. CCFP also currently shares office space with StandWithUs.

These are legal and commonly used practices for new groups in the not-for-profit world, according to tax experts. But CCFP’s choice to partner with StandWithUs — a group that has co-produced videos with Israel’s foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, rejecting the notion that the West Bank is occupied — has moved critics to question its real agenda.

“Why not align themselves with an organization that is closer to their projected position as apolitical?” asked Andrew Kadi of the pro-boycott U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation.

CCFP’s founding member David Renzer, in an email to the Forward, said his organization has “always operated independently” of StandWithUs and that “there is no day-to-day relationship” with the group.”

The criticism has not stopped CCFP from bringing together an impressive roster of Hollywood heavies behind its banner. They include, among others, Ben Silverman, a former co-chair of NBC Entertainment; Jody Gerson, co-president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing; Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of Time Warner; Samuel Schwartz, co-founder of the music talent agency Gorfaine/Schwartz, and Ron Fair, chief creative officer and executive vice president of Virgin Records and former chairman of Gefen Productions. Fair has also produced albums for acts such as the Black Eyed Peas and Christina Aguilera, and these high profile connections underline the kind of personal and professional relationships the group can bring into play.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.